Vraja Bihari Das

“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for actions in the past.”

–         Tryon Edwards (19th century American Theologian, best known for his book of quotes, ‘A dictionary of thoughts’)

I shouted at him because he didn’t add me in the communication loop, and I was upset. My anger exacerbated when even a week later, he didn’t apologize. I grew impatient. It was time for our monthly meeting, and he was cordial as if nothing had happened a month ago. While I masked my anger during the meeting, I decided to confront him a few days later. After the meeting, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see my inbox with emails asking for suggestions, and there was a detailed report on the meeting. Ever since I am consulted and respected; my opinions heard.

In retrospect, I realize he did apologize- it was indirect though. The proof that he sought forgiveness was in the behavior that followed- my feelings were respected, my needs met and he held no grudges.

Most people are reasonable, and when we reveal a genuine hurt and give them time, they go back and reflect on it. In time, you’ll notice a shift in their behavior. But if you insist on an admission of guilt, you’ll likely cause more strain in the relationship.

Many can’t say a simple word, ‘Sorry’ but they do mean it by their actions. Culturally, in many parts of India, emotions are not expressed exuberantly; rather men and women do the needful, soberly, quietly and with grace. And there are others who are reluctant to express regret because they fear it might be rejected. Or worse they could be chastised, “Oh, do you mean that sorry?” Rebuff causes excruciating pain- especially when you sincerely seek pardon, and the person dismisses your genuine repentance. Your sense of worth could shatter and often, that’s a disastrous blow to one’s ego.

Its best we say sorry sincerely and specifically for the mistakes we commit, but let’s not measure others’ honesty by their imitation of our style of seeking forgiveness.

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