OPINION: I am sorry

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Oct 01 2016 12:56 AM

For many of us, these words are difficult to say. Sometimes, we feel like we’re losing big time when we say these little words. But there are times too, when they’re said without sincerity—something like “Let’s eat!” when people drop in on us just as we open our mouths for the first spoonful of hot, steaming rice.

“I am sorry” means a whole lot more than regretting something one has done or failed to do. It means you do not intend to do it again—unless you say it “through the nose” (labas sa ilong) and just say it for the sake of peace.

Sometimes, being sorry will not bring back what used to be—like when you inadvertently take a life away. Saying ‘sorry’ will not bring the dead back to life. A public apology after one insults, vilifies or so much as cast a doubt on someone’s reputation will never be enough. Whatever hurting words or lies were said remains in the memory and in the heart.

Does this mean that saying sorry is useless? I don’t think so. Knowing that one has to say it someday should be enough deterrent—or warning to think things through—unless one is so thick-skinned and is not embarrassed to say it over and over.

I am reminded of someone who said that sometimes, the sacrament of confession becomes something like brushing one’s teeth—you can eat again after having brushed your teeth because you can brush again and again. Can one keep committing sin because one can confess again and again? I guess if it is made clear that we have to apologize to the person we hurt after confession, then we would take care not to do it again.

One’s intonation whenever those three words also say a lot about whether one is sincerely sorry or not. Remember the “I am sorry” we heard and saw on TV in connection with the “Hello Garci” scandal? Saying the phrase with tears doesn’t it make it sincere either. Sometimes, we’re just worried about not being forgiven and we realize that we stand to lose a lot, so that brings us to tears.

A friend once said that saying “Please forgive me” is a better way of expressing one’s regret over an act or omission. I realize that saying it is also an expression of humility because it means allowing the other person to pass judgement.

This makes apologizing something for the courageous. How much courage does one need to say sorry to those whose loved ones are victims of summary executions? 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.