By: Josh Malett
By: Josh Malett
“I’m sorry IF my words hurt your feelings.”
“I’m sorry IF my behavior kept you up last night.”
“I’m sorry IF I was unclear.”
I’m sorry IF.
A small word, yet large in meaning
An apology is supposed to be an acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
Or if not wrongdoing then of fault.
Of someone else’s pain or feelings or interpretation of actions or speech or forgetting to do something.
It’s saying you fucked up. And that you, the person at fault are swallowing your pride, reaching out and humbling yourself to try and make up for your actions.
In Portuguese and Spanish the words for “if” (Se/Si respectively) trigger a verb tense that does not exist in English called the subjunctive. The subjunctive tone signifies doubt, something that does not necessarily exist. Something that could come to being in the future. Or a question.Or to question the existence of something. It removes a sense of sureness. If serves the same purpose in English.
So IF the word “if” conveys a sense of doubt, signifies something that may or may not exist, then what place does it have in an apology?
Apologies with if don’t acknowledge a wrongdoing or fault….or someone else’s pain, feelings or interpretation of speech.
All they do is fulfill the physical space apologies occupy. They allow the person “apologizing” to feel like they acknowledged someone else’s pain or feelings.
But they haven’t.
All they’ve done is recognized that some action needed to be taken.
“Have you heard about the tragedy at UT”
“Can we not talk about that during this meal?”
“But what happened”
“Can you Google it later”
“I just wanna know”
Whispers, “A murder”
Chairs are quickly pulled out.
“Why could you not respect his wishes and not talk about this”
Rustling of keys within a purse.
Curt, tense, and emotional words overheard from the kitchen at barely a murmur.
The door slams.
The keys turn in the ignition and the car pulls out.
Later a text saying “I’m sorry if what I said hurt your feelings, I didn’t know about the situation and now that I know I understand.”
I’m sorry IF.
This, unlike its surface level appearance is not an apology because the point of the apology has been nullified.
If indeed the offending party had felt sorry they would have owned their behavior.
But that is not what that text said.
It was a hollow remark.
Not meant to heal wounds between people.
Not meant to repair bridges between people.
Not meant to fill a hole left by ignoring people’s wishes and being unaware of anyone else in the room.
This was meant to happen so you said you apologized.
So, to the un-observing eye, to the speed reader, to the conflict avoider, to the easily persuaded and gullible people who accept apologies which don’t take ownership, you reached out.
But not to me.
That’s not going to fly this time.
You know where to reach me.
I’m waiting for an apology.