Toothed Apologies

Today I was thinking about my recent post with the crude language. I was wondering if I had offended anyone — turned anyone off by my liberal use of vulgarity. In considering whether to offer up an apology, I began to think about the act of apologizing.

Generally, I see apologies as necessary when I have done something intentionally hurtful or dismissive toward someone. If I accidentally bump into someone at the grocer, I’ll say something like, “Oops, my mistake.” But I won’t say “sorry.” I reserve that word for my occasional selfish and immature behavior.

Apologies, in my opinion, should have some teeth. “Sorry” shouldn’t get thrown around and slapped onto unintentional annoyances.

So, I briefly considered whether my potentially offensive blog was worth offering up an apology for. The title served as an enter-at-your-own-risk warning; readers were put on fair notice; no one was holding a gun to anyone’s head.

Later today, when I decided no apology would be forthcoming, I found this Seberg quote when I searched for quotes containing the word “unapologetic.” (There were not many.)

I’m unapologetic not because I’m strong willed or overconfident.

I’m unapologetic because this is it; this is my life.

There is nothing I can do, no one I can please.

I am a person with a strong sense of being, that’s all.

Wow.

There’s a quote. Thank you, Jean Seberg.

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Then , I clicked through to Wikipedia to learn about this woman. She was a talented actress, targeted by the FBI, and dead at forty in what was ruled a drug overdose.

I’ve placed her biography on reserve at the library along with a request for the DVD of “Breathless,” which itself holds a special place in the history of filmmaking.

It never ceases to amaze me how a simple thought can expand into a trail of inquiry and treasury of discovery.

5 thoughts on “Toothed Apologies

  1. Apologies, it turns out, are very cultural, perhaps even ethnic, as in regional. I have travelled a lot and in some countries rude people can just about knock you to the ground before muttering a word. Often this is due to very dense population where you are always being jostled. I am thinking about India and China. This transcends to words as well, in that different languages use and understand words in different and complex ways. And then there is Japan, as I recall in my Japanese language study, I remember at least 5 separate and distinct levels of apology ranging from a simple bump on an overcrowded commuter train, up to a major personal injury, either physical or as your note addressed, verbal. I had to learn when to use each level of apology. For example, when giving a speech in Japan it is customary to apologize first thing in your introduction for wasting the audience’s time for such simple information presented by someone so unqualified and humble. Then of course, you continue for 35-40 minutes on a brilliant speech. Lastly there is the Russian. When I studied Russian in the US Army Language School, I had to pass a test on the subject of Russian vulgarities, which filled a booklet of some 300 pages. Needless to say, they don’t apologize much but they will say terrible things about your mother.

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