THEY WENT ON STRIKE

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Recently we tried to get home after a hard day’s work and ran into thousands of sit-in strikers who – as is their habit from time to time – had some grievance-bone to pick with the incumbent government, whilst we were going through the hassle and frustration of battling around the sit-in, missed our train and got home late on a cold and wet Friday night.

Not the way to slide into a weekend…

Amongst this bunch were scientists, social services workers, teachers, and others – obviously thinking their conduct not only laudable but also a model for the younger generation to follow.

Well it is not.

And here is a message to them: If you have a problem with the government or your management then do not take it out and inconvenience your fellow taxpayers, especially on a cold, wet, wintery night at going home time.

You are foolishly selfish.

I have seen this happen in other countries and eventually those who go home late, cold and wet will lose their sympathy with your cause. You will eventually heap upon yourselves a resistance from your victims – which, in my mind, would be more than acceptable.

Then on Sunday after church – the pastors were not on strike, thank God – our friends took us for lunch to a great restaurant. We placed our order – drinks and food – and were served with empty glasses and plates. As we quizzically looked at the restaurant manager, he explained that the plants and animals went on strike.

They had a string of demands mainly driven by the Greens. One main point was that they insisted on respect, which they say is in short supply all round. Taking their cue from humans, they said.

The manager took time to sit down with us and explain what had happened at the meeting with the plants, animals and insects which was apparently recorded for worldwide release.

Their final fling was to go on strike even for medicinal purposes and yield nothing to be used as ingredients. Including by some trendy sports people.

We sat there like stunned mullets. I listened with my empty mouth wide open.

Then I offered to do the washing up…

Apparently it went like this:

A calm bravado settled over the place as the plants, animals and insects made themselves comfortable on the Big Field where they gathered.

Ms. Hannah Sweet Potato looked a bit uneasy as she took the microphone.

“Order. Order. Can you all please find your patch and settle down, but don’t grow roots. We are here to discuss going on strike for a number of reasons as laid out in our agenda which I will announce shortly” she said.

“Our first order of business is to elect a committee. I propose that Mr. Bull be elected Chair and President. He has a no BS attitude and the muscle to push back when and where required. I also propose that Miss Tomato be elected Secretary”, who on hearing her name, blushed a lovely deep red.

“I propose Mr. Pig to be our negotiator – someone whom we can always rely on to bring the bacon home” to which the pig squealed with delight.

Spring Pea swelled with pride at being amongst such elite. Mister Bean strung along with proceedings, and Mrs. Cow thought she could milk this for all it is worth. The cock was just waking up to proceedings and crowed with delight. Mrs. Hen clucked her support.

“Our agenda include discussions on:

  • Sociable working hours – max 7.5 hours per day with a lunch break. No Tea times.
  • A shorter 5-day work week, equal to humans.
  • Leave and an equal number of holidays, including Thanksgiving in the USA.
  • Crèches for our young whilst the parents are out working.
  • Safety concerns, specifically safety gear to protect all of us who face dangerous and uncomfortable working conditions such as knives, frying pans, and cold working environments. Our consumers would not stand for it, so why should we die for it!”

“To get proceedings underway, we ask some of you to relate personal experiences before going on to a vote.”

“We are given no warning to prepare themselves for the afterlife before we and our kids are normally lead like lambs to the slaughter” bleated Mr. and Mrs. Sheep.

A teary-eyed union leader for the patch of Onions related how they were not spared the chop and were often diced with sharp and dangerous instruments which humans themselves consider to be weapons.

“Caned for no misdemeanor at all” quipped Miss. Sugar.

“We are sick and tired of hearing the joke about the hen being only engaged in breakfast whilst the pig is committed to it. I mean, after all, our eggs are unborn babies. What humans would make a comparable joke about being engaged or committed when referring to THEIR unborn babies!

“The only engagement and commitment we know humans to make is for a few months during courtship and marriage – which often results in divorce” cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCKAAAWWWKK-ed Mother Hen.

“And what about leave! We do not have any leave” bristled the leaves, adding that they would fall for an offer of 4 weeks leave per year. And a single season, preferably summer.

The Lawn felt that they were trampled upon and in fact sometimes run over. The grapes got rid of their bottled-up frustration saying humans just abuse them and then blame their own drunken behavior, silly acts, mistakes, accidents, headaches, even pregnancies on fermented or smoked plants. In fact, the grapes said, they would rather age gracefully, never mind the wrinkles – their preferred raison d’etre.

Verna Sunkist and Lisbon Meyer-Lemon did not appreciate being squeezed pip-less and made sure things turned out sour for their users.

“Can someone stop them from pressing our life’s oil out of us and then use it for frying our fellow plants and animal friends?” lamented Mr. and Mrs. Olive, a sympathy which was echoed by all fry-by-nights.

“We are roasted for nothing and our neighbors the Tea Leaves are hung out to dry for something they did not do” quipped a piping hot Mr. Coffee Bean.

Bull snorted that he normally gives humans a cold shoulder and then also ends up getting a roasting.

There were cries for crèches for their growing young whilst the parents were busy eking out a living under harsh and sometimes dry conditions.

As the discussions wrapped up there seemed to be quite a few dissenting voices. Risotto Rice stuck together. The Bees did not think the deal was sweet enough. The Bovines criticized global trade deals that shipped animals all over the world for human gain, and could basically not be moo-ved unless they were given assurances that their off-springs would not be fatted up to be sent – without consent – in cramped conditions on long overseas journeys to locations where they were sometimes beaten to death with hammers.

It was not all business: Basil and Cori-Ander brought a lovely flavor and fragrance to proceedings and munchkin Lumina Pumpkin showed off her curves.

Discussions draw to a close with a “Wilt and rot, if agreement not!” catch cry.

The Greens won the day by convincing the others to vote for a boycott against humanity until discussions resulted in a fair and equitable outcome for all.

PS: I recall a situation where garbage truck workers went on strike in London in the 1980’s. Followed by their wives – who decided not to cook, make up beds, wash or iron, since the hubbies sat around all day, scratching themselves, drinking beer and playing cards. The wives said “what is good for the gander is good for the goose”.

And I agree.

ARE THE SCALES OF JUSTICE TILTED?

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“Victims land up on the wrong side of the ledger”…Marc

Marc, a friend of mine came over for a beer the other night to watch the news. We switched off after a while:

  • Drug-filled youth crashes through house, maims 93-year old and runs away.
  • Daughter dies after using impure drugs.
  • 19-year old rapes child.
  • Hit-and-run death of old 65-year old person.
  • Drugged man arrested in bloodstained T-shirt for murder of partner.
  • Truck hits a car on the highway – 3 dead.
  • Death by smoking.
  • Missing toddler – believe abducted.
  • Newspaper kiosk to close after 25 years.
  • Thieves lure 2 people who want to sell their mobile phones and rob them in car park.
  • Broken oil pipe in Canada spills oil.
  • Killer appeals life sentence.
  • 53-year old rapes schoolgirl on pavement whilst holding knife to her throat.

No good news.

Marc is 43. Unmarried. A serious and dependable person. So we started talking about a few things which eventually lead to items such as instant gratification, lawlessness, drugs and even – for him at his age – the “good old days”. I attempt to summarise some of his thinking here, whilst trying to see things in perspective.

He maintains that “walking in another person’s shoes is neither art nor science. It’s a ‘must’. And can sometime be revealing as well as a revelation for some.”

He calls it “empathy. Both sides now” he said. “Let’s look at victims for a change” he said. Especially victims of drug abuse. A 93-year old grandma sits in front of her TV in her house – bothering no-one. A drug-crazed 18 year old slams a car through her lounge wall, crashes into grandma, breaks her pelvis and hip. He somehow escapes hurt and runs away.

That is a death sentence for a person aged 93. They caught him afterwards. Stolen car. No license. And pleaded for a lesser sentence “because I was under the influence and did not do it intentionally. It was an accident“. No previous conviction. Gets a slap on the wrist. Suspended sentence with some hours communal service. And grandma will die after years. Bed-ridden and in pain.

  • Druggie gets a second chance. Grandma doesn’t.

Next item. The father loses his daughter who took impure drugs. She dies in agony in a hospital. Maybe she is the “lucky one”. Dad – and the rest of the family – suffer for the rest of their lives, with the heartbroken father saying he wants “all drug dealers hanged. And may they burn in hell”.

  • And the drug kingpin is a few dollars richer.

From here the conversation turned to a recent case that attracted international attention i.e. the conviction and execution by firing squad of two foreigners in Indonesia. Clemency please from parents, family and even politicians fell on deaf ears – and polluted the relationship between the two countries, with Indonesia claiming that the other country politicized a legal case. Note that warnings are posted on Indonesian entry documents as well as on signboards informing that drug trafficking is punishable by death. Sixteen offences currently attract the death penalty in that country, two of which are:

  • Production, transit, import and possession of psychotropic drugs (Law No. 5/1997 on Psychotropic Drugs)
  • Production, transit, import and possession of narcotics (Law No. 22/1997 on Narcotics)

The Indonesian legal system also differs from some of those in the West, which may pose issues of understanding and interpretation. Their President mentioned that 18,500 Indonesian children die of drugs every year. “Whether that figure is correct is not an issue”, my friend says “Even if it was 10% of that figure, then 1,850 kids are 1,850 too many. The issue is that kids lose their lives and families lose children. Parents are heartbroken, as elsewhere in the world”.

  • Lesson learnt: Respect the laws of other countries and if you are caught there, then sometimes your own country can do little to help you.

Marc says he has done some research into the use of illegal drugs. Researchers – using several sources – estimate that between 149 million and 271 million people worldwide use illegal drugs resulting in an:

  • estimated 250,000 deaths every year.

Not to mention the horrific “ICE” epidemic sweeping countries, causing mayhem, murder, one-punch deaths, further fueled by too much liquor, bravado and instant offence.

  • “But how many victims?” asked Marc “How many innocent victims!”

Then he posed another question, which I could not answer: “Do drug traffickers or mules stop after the first successful deal? Or do they carry on, especially if they are part of ‘the system’ and opting out may be dangerous because they know too much. Very few drug smugglers will spill the beans for fear of retribution. And how much of a factor is ‘get-quick-rich’ money?”

  • Or basically: Will they continue to be part of the supply chain that kills?

Now, Marc turned my attention to another point as I opened another beer.

“Victims and their families have rights too, you know. Their loved ones have emotions too and miss their kids, moms, dads, peers when they die at the hands of drug users and ultimately at the hands of drug kingpins.”

Then, between sips, he asked me another question that made me think.

  • “Have we perhaps been focusing on the wrong side of the ledger for too long and the legal system became too soft? And do you think that rehabilitation works?”

I answered yes to his first question, but was in two minds about his second question, having studied sociology at one point in my life and knowing about recidivism. My view may perhaps be too much to the right of the current wave of permissiveness which sweeps the globe.

  • We cannot rehabilitate those who had died because of illicit drugs – and importantly, their victims. They are dead and gone – but the heartache remains.

Marc then advanced a perhaps provocative point of view about how to deal with offenders, whomever they are and whatever they are guilty of – and their victims:

  • Liquidate whatever offenders possess until there is enough to compensate their victims, starting with their most valuable assets – house, car, etc. No pain, no gain” he said.

Now for the corker:

  • “If they do not have enough to compensate, go after their parents and other family.”

His logic? “The scales of justice must balance. The victims should be restituted to an equal position as far as possible – and the offender must pay for that restitution, or the family where the offender cannot do it due to insufficient means. Once that happens, families will start looking after their kids.”

I said that it is perhaps a bit too far to go after the parents and other family, to which he retorted “Perhaps BUT, and this is the ‘but’ that makes it valid, the victim’s family also suffer – so for me it balances out. And it will make sure that parents bring their children up well. If you can claim to be a student and be on your parents’ medical plan till 25 or whatever age, then they should also be responsible for whatever you transgress, till at least that age.”

  • I was shocked. It almost seems Middle Aged in concept.

Then Marc pointed me to a movie called ‘Taras Bulba’ where the father executed his own son for committing what they considered treason. Then he left me with this to ponder over:

Though an efficient and effective constitution allows government to function to protect the lives and liberties of citizens, it apparently does not require the State to protect its citizens from private violence. If a citizen wants to sue for compensation, it can do so as a private matter. The State will not interfere.

But, said Marc, driving a car without a license is not a private matter in the eyes of the law. Peddling drugs is not a private matter in the eyes of the law, he said. So pursuing the injustices that flow from that should also not be a private matter, he said. If it is, then it pits citizen against citizen and eventually lands up in an unequal state for victims.

  • Marc said he just wants to “the books to be balanced for a change. And the Law should not be a bystander.”

Marc and I are still good friends, but I am now careful what news I discuss with him.

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PERSPECTIVES: NUMBERS COUNT. PASSION TRIUMPHS

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“Act your Passion – not your age”.

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015

They say you cannot manage what you cannot measure.

I am a numbers man. I love maths. And I am passionate about things. Music. Books. Movies. Plants. Animals. Nature. And sometimes about people. Sometimes they clash. Numbers and Passion, that is.

The top management of the previous two IT companies I worked for were taken over by numbers people – one with a doctorate in numbers. And they started chasing numbers. Turn-over. Sales figures. The share price. Not replacing staff who resign but sharing the workload amongst those who remained. All done to make the numbers look better. Whilst these soul-crunching execs made the shareholders happy, they lost some very passionate people in the process.

A business is made up of people, not numbers. I saw a whole accounts department – who sat on the other side of a partition, and people I worked with daily and respected for their diligence, late hours, personal sacrifice – closed down and their jobs outsourced to somewhere where wages were lower – to save money. One person was a widow who lost her on-duty policeman husband the previous Christmas Day in an accident. She had two school-going kids. And had been working there for 10 years. Our executive flew to London once a month – Business Class – “to report numbers”. And the ticket cost the same as the combined monthly salaries of the four people who were laid off.

Shareholders are just one group in a symbiotic community of four, or more. There are clients. Worker bees. And management. All four make a business go round. And when there are actually real products, such as food, involved, then we must include farmers, truck drivers, and others in the “pip-to-plate” supply line equation.

Will there ever be a Wall Street for Passion?

No!

Because you cannot trade Passion.

Let us use another example: The Olympics.

Passion is what keeps the athletes training. Through hurt. Winters. Rain. Disappointments. They may treasure two things: medals on the podium OR just participating. For every gold medalist there are perhaps 20 non-medalists. But they participate in the same lofty event. Kudos to them all!

If you are world number one is it because you love running, throwing the discus or javelin, jumping high or long – or just being number one and occupying the highest place on the podium?

You will be on a personal high after every good run, throw, jump – but perhaps only once on the podium. Perhaps. And perhaps be rich afterwards. Perhaps. But think about it, what is more satisfying in the long run (or throw or jump)? The admiration and inspiration of kids? Hearing your anthem play on the podium? Or your bank account? Whichever one you choose will define you. Maybe you love them all – but can’t eat neither.

Be yourself. Because that is the person you have to live with for the rest of your life. Every morning wake up with.

Who are you? A number? Or a Passionate Human?

And as for numbers. They mean a lot. Explain a lot. But they cannot measure or explain Passion.

KEY POINTS

  • Sometimes numbers and passion clash.
  • Executives’ numbers-chase often end up losing passionate people in the process.
  • A business is made up of people – not numbers.
  • There will never be a Wall Street for Passion.
  • Everyone who participates is a winner. You don’t have to stand on a podium to be one.
  • You are defined by the choices you make – and how you act them out.

ACTION STEPS

  • Act your Passion. Not your age.
  • Be yourself. Because that is the person you have to live with for the rest of your life.

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PERSPECTIVES: BE WEATHER WISE

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“Snowmen fall from heaven… unassembled.” Author Unknown

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications during Q3 2015

Weather – part attitude, part nature. Handle it. Don’t let it handle you.

Weather and seasons have affected Life since the dawn of our planet and before our species built mud huts to shelter in. So, if you can handle the weather, you can handle almost anything.

Whilst cold and wet weather may intensely affect the mood of some people, bad weather often spells damage and danger. It may wipe out complete towns, impacting its victims physically, socially and financially – fracturing them mentally, emotionally as well as spiritually – through loss of life and livelihood. Ask those who live in Tornado Alley and places like the Philippines.

Good weather on the other hand serves a positive impact on our disposition and life in general. Warmer weather is more sympathetic to pains that come with advanced age and understandably many people have a preference to holiday or retire in more subdued and warmer climates.

Physical

Our brains are wired such that sunlight produces a natural anti-depressant which makes us feel good on bright and sunny summer’s days. Equally true, cold winter weather may affect our sleep and make some people more hesitant to get out of bed.

To counter that, my wife and I have developed a “rise and shine” method for winter mornings: We count to three and the one who gets up first pulls the blankets from the one who is still in bed. But of course only after we wake up slowly with some bright uplifting music.

Occasionally I have also watched sport being played in the rain – and my attitude is that if dripping-wet and cold players can entertain us out there, the least I could do was to applaud – snuggled under my umbrella – or perhaps even from the sanctity (and sanity) of my couch at home.

Social

Some people dance in the rain, others just get wet.

Temperature, sunlight, rain – they all work together to form our own personal climate.

A balmy night leaves us refreshed. Enough sunlight stores Vitamin D which helps to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Going to work and returning in sunshine peps us up for an upcoming weekend of fun.

On the other hand, chilly winters and too little sunlight causes Vitamin D deficiency. Going to work and coming home in the dark eventually takes its toll on body, mind and spirit. Rain will complicate our way to work, perhaps leave us uncomfortably wet. An already taxed immune system may succumb to a cold or worse still, flu that results in greater loss of energy – and less time to socialize (or work).

Mental

Catastrophic weather and other nature-borne events across the globe have shown that different societies display different psyches in times of crisis. Our attitude, and how we react to these events depends on us. And we will do well to put and keep ourselves in positive control of our attitude to weather in general.

Emotional

Individual characteristics play a part in our approach to weather – good, bad or indifferent. Emotionally strong and stable individuals can resist its influence on their emotions far better than others.

“SAD”, short for “seasonal affective disorder” – also known as winter depression – is normally related to the amount of sunlight we get in a day. The lesser sunlight we get the SAD-der we become. Again, our attitude is at the center of being able to handle it.

Intellectual

Climate change conjures up visions of a world engulfed in catastrophe for all life on the planet.

It powers political parties, producing documents that argue the pros and cons of remaining on our Arc of Development / Destruction. Some raise alarms of rising seas and consequential global hunger, whilst others point to earthly cycles outside the control of humankind.

Whichever camp you support, there is something to be said though about the impact of producing more than 60 million cars every year, most of which guzzle oxygen and produce carbon monoxide.

Spiritual

Spiritually we live through a season in more ways than one – and with it, all kinds of “weather”. For those of a religious persuasion a passage from the Bible describes a time and season for every purpose, which leans itself to several interpretations including what many believe to be a Call for World Peace.

For those who are less religiously but still spiritually inclined seasons also map to Life: Spring is a time for planting, for enjoying the budding beginnings of Life. As Spring becomes Summer there enters a time for growth and maturity in preparation of Life’s harvest. Autumn/Fall brings with it a time to harvest and store the fruits of the seasons that came before. The Winter of our Days brings with it a time to snuggle up to the warmth of memories, nourishing ourselves with meditation and mature relationships – in preparation for the Next Cycle.

KEY SUMMARY

  • Sunlight produces a natural feel-good anti-depressant. Winter makes some feeling depressed.
  • Temperature, sunlight and rain all work together to form your own personal climate.
  • “Some people dance in the rain, others just get wet” sums up the attitude to bad weather.
  • Emotionally strong individuals resist the influence of weather on their emotions better than others.
  • Climate change conjures up visions of a world engulfed in catastrophe for all living creatures.
  • Spiritually we live through a season in more ways than one – and with it, all kinds of “weather”.

ACTION STEPS

  • Remain in control of your attitude.
  • Look after yourself in winter and remain healthy. Payback? More time to socialize.
  • “Dance in the rain” and remain of positive attitude.
  • Get enough sun – don’t contract the SAD-ness of “seasonal affective disorder”.
  • Be a realist in terms of humankind’s effect on the global weather.
  • Prepare yourself for Life’s Seasons.

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PERSPECTIVES: YOU ARE YOU – NOT YOUR JOB

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“Life is Priceless. Don’t sell it short”.

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015

What are you living? Your legacy or your resume?

This one cost me dearly. Not once. But twice. The third time I walked away.

At age 70 you would have lived around 25,570 sunrises and sunsets.

How many have you seen?

How many more do you expect to see from today?

More importantly – How many are you going to waste?

This week I read a short piece about a mother whose son was asked what he would like to be when he grew up. He responded with WHO he would like to be, not WHAT: “I would like to be kind and brave” he said. WHO = YOU. What = your position, vocation or job. Which you can change a number of times.

WHO is more important than WHAT.

I take my hat off to that child. He already knows who he is. Right now. Not when he grows up. And it matters to be who you are all throughout your Life, not only when you grow up. Children play. They expand. They erase whatever containment lines adults can think up. Adults often draw lines around things. They judge. They contract.

But to return to the title: Twice in my life I lived the corporate life to my own detriment, and near demise. The first time I took on too much after the CEO of our company was jailed for fraud, followed 24 hours later by my manager succumbing to the additional stress of firing 4 people and nearly lost his eye. The responsibility of running a national IT company which supported an international bank fell to me within hours. I over-extended myself, fell ill with a virus one weekend and lost 6 kilos (13 pounds) of weight, resulting in permanent hair loss, weaker eye sight and temporary deafness. There was no Victoria Cross for my effort.

The second time I was rushed to hospital at my own request whilst walking to work one morning after I felt a dizziness and pressure inside my head. My blood pressure was 196 / 131 and the doctor said I was heading for a stroke – working 20-hour days for months on end. Again, there was no Victoria Cross for my effort.

But, I was the problem. I allowed my life to be cluttered. I walked around with a 50+ items To-Do list in my pocket. I worked for a pay-cheque. I forgot who I was: A husband. Son. Friend. Student. Financial provider. Spiritual being. But I let The Corporate Machine chew me up and spit me out – and then forget about me. Today I pay for my high blood pressure pills and glasses. Not The Corporation.

Do not forget who you are. You are You. Not your job.

And You own You.

Work-life balance – a term that rolls off the tongue easily – is now being replaced with work-life effectiveness, which will one day be replaced with another hyphenated term.

Life don’t need hyphens.

The main question to ask yourself is “Am I living my legacy OR my resume?”

I am sure you know which one you live. And I am sure you know which one you SHOULD live.

The To-Do List in my pocket should have had the following six items on it:

  1. Celebrate WHO I am – not WHAT I am.
  2. Live the Life I wanted – not the life I was expected to live.
  3. Live a balanced Live within every 24-hour day cycle.
  4. Appreciate and Love – with capital letters.
  5. Stay connected with those who matter – not your email directory.
  6. Laugh more – the universe is full of humor.

Yes, I changed my To-Do List.

KEY POINTS

  • Life is priceless.
  • WHO is more important than WHAT.
  • Life is not a pay-cheque.
  • Life do not need hyphenated words.
  • You are a multi-faceted person.
  • The correct To-Do List is important.

ACTION STEPS

  • Celebrate WHO you are.
  • Live your legacy.
  • Balance your life.
  • Love and appreciate.
  • Stay connected.
  • Laugh.

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PERSPECTIVES: APOLOGIES – STRENGTH OR WEAKNESS?

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“If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize”. Muhammad Ali

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015)

“I apologize”. Two of the most powerful words.

Humility leads to healing. Pride – to bitterness. Many times the choice is ours.

The definition of what a true apology is has changed over the years, and also means different things in different cultures and countries, often linked to social, legal and other consequences.

It currently encompasses a spoken or written expression and regretful acknowledgement of an offence, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged or caused a problem for another.    

At the heart of the matter there is a party who has been wronged or feels wronged and another party that has done the wrong.

Apologies are meant to effect a redress and – if done correctly – can bring about healing to a fractured relationship, solace to the victim and relief to the person who did the wrong.

Three elements relating to the offender are important for this to be effective, i.e. the offender:

  • acknowledges the wrongdoing and has genuine regret
  • acknowledges the legitimacy of the hurt it caused the victim
  • is placed in a vulnerable position, since the victim may not accept the apology. It, therefore, requires courage from the offender to offer the apology.

This last point i.e. the offender’s emotional vulnerability couched in humility is the positive element which may make it work and win back the respect of the victim.

Without these elements it is a fauxpology – a hollow attempt at an apology – that is often used to duck responsibility whilst shifting blame to the victim. They are staged, in-sincere, and insulting – all of which may strain an already bruised relationship further, resulting in bitterness.

Some people view “I am sorry, I was wrong” as a sign of incompetence or weakness – which they fear may lead to political or financial suicide. However, if done correctly it may in fact enhance a person’s standing.

Physical

Nobody is perfect.

We all make mistakes and do things that hurt others – sometimes through thoughtlessness, at other times perhaps more purposeful. In the aftermath we should have the guts to offer sincere apologies – stressing the value we place on relationships rather than personal pride. Content, timing and tone are also crucial.

Specific steps and actions in offering and accepting an apology make it effective.

When offering an apology:

  • Be specific in explaining your offence.
  • Do not be ambiguous – and do not shift the blame.
  • Legitimize the victim’s feelings and pain.
  • Take responsibility for your actions / words.
  • Voice you regret followed by a sincere apology.
  • Finally, point out how you will act in future to restore trust.

When receiving an apology:

You may accept or reject an apology depending on whether you have reconciled matters or need more healing time. Your response to an apology is thus critical for the future relationship with the offender.

  • Respond with genuine acceptance if you are ready to accept an apology, demonstrating it with a sincere gaze and handshake or a hug.
  • If you are not ready to accept it, indicate that you value the apology but need more time to heal. This is a tricky moment, since the offending party has made themselves vulnerable by honestly laying bare their honour in an act of humility – which they may now feel you reject.

Social

Re-enactments of crimes are often done to offer victims and the community an entry-point in coming to grips with the effect of offences.

I had a chance to witness the re-enactment of a vicious robbery of a village family which was seen as a crime against community norms. The offenders had to face their victims – who this time knowingly had the upper-hand – and replay their crime at the scene in broad daylight and full view of the whole village.

The reversal of power was quite visible and whilst the role-play contained elements of catharsis – some of the thieves were forgiven by the family – a hollow apology from the remorseless ring-leader, who in fact came from the same village, was rejected and his family had to bear the cost of his time in jail.

An exchange of shame and power worked between the offenders and victims, whilst showing that at times mediation is required – in this case both police and villagers.

Mental

It may take years for an apology to be presented – or accepted. Our pastor mentioned a case where a pride-filled son reconciled with his mother on her deathbed by way of an apology for an action that separated them for more than 30 years. The ove that went missing during those hurting years and the mental pain suffered on both sides is incalculable.

Emotional

A sincere apology delivers a number of benefits as has been seen during attempts to bring forth truth from offenders and reconcile them with their victims, i.e.

  • It starts a process of emotional healing for both victims and offenders alike.
  • It helps victims move past personal hurt and anger against offenders, bringing about a restoration of trust, dignity and a sense of justice, knowing that the offenders understand the pain they caused.
  • Victims bestow empathy on – and eventually forgive – their wrong-doers.
  • Offenders are not seen as personal threats anymore – in fact they stand emotionally naked in front of their victims.
  • Brings peace and restore relationships.

Intellectual

Recent political history in the USA and elsewhere is littered with examples of non-apologies for outright lying to and deception of constituents on a range of subjects including sexual misconduct, denial of having had knowledge, incompetence, spying, self-enrichment and other assaults on the intelligence of those who were wronged. Fauxpologizers routinely try to avoid or minimize the effect of litigation and several states have now legislated against using an apology as evidence of liability – meaning that it cannot be used against the apologizer as evidence of negligence. This clears the way for an offender to apologize without fear of being sued for negligence.

Imagine – laws to protect you from any negative outcomes for apologizing!

Spiritual

From a spiritual perspective, apologies are a form of asking for forgiveness in light of repentance. There is an acceptance of responsibility, a regret and remorse followed by, if not a reparation or restitution, then at least a decision to strive to do better next time. These elements also find echo in many religions.

KEY POINTS

  • Apologies cannot fix the past – but can bring about relief and reconciliation.
  • The world is littered with fauxpologies – hollow insulting attempts that duck responsibility, shift blame and may strain already bruised relationships further, resulting in bitterness.
  • At times it may take years for an apology to be presented – or accepted.
  • A sincere apology delivers a number of benefits when reconciling offenders and victims.
  • Apologies are a form of asking for forgiveness in light of repentance.

ACTION STEPS

  • Apologize when you offend people.
  • Never fauxpologize.
  • Apologize at the soonest opportunity.
  • When offering an apology, be specific, sincere, acknowledge your offence, accept responsibility, voice regret and point out how you will act in future to restore trust.
  • When considering an apology, respond with genuine acceptance or ask for more healing time.
  • Do not live an apologetic life. Be your own person. You are equal to all on this planet.

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