Mistakes are a part and parcel of life. We make them all the time. And so does everyone around us. They’re an essential part of growing up and play a huge role in shaping you to become the person you are. It’s completely fine to make a mistake- as long as we don’t seriously maim or kill a person in the process. But while we might be able to avoid painful physical injury, it would be dishonest to say that mistakes don’t have a negative impact- because they do. And more often than not, it’s quite hard to decide whether the lesson learnt was worth the pain caused to the other person. But this problem can be solved with the help of an apology. No, I’m not trying to say that it’s okay to wrong someone as long as you apologize. But unintentional damage caused can certainly be made good with the help of ‘I’m sorry’. And I have been brought up being taught that the only reasonable and acceptable response to an apology is to say ‘it’s okay’. When somebody says they’re sorry about something, whether it’s having broken your heart or lost your favourite book- you tell them it’s okay. You forgive them.
I believe this approach works extremely well because of the amount of power and sincerity that is attached to word ‘sorry’. Being able to apologise for something is not the easiest thing in the world. It takes effort and an insane amount of courage. Being able to look someone you have wronged in the eye and apologise takes serious guts. One must be able to let go of their ego and believe that they won’t become a smaller person by admitting to having done something the wrong way. And more than anything, apologising requires a lot of faith in the person you’re apologising to because everything depends on their reaction to your words. And when someone takes all these pains and puts themselves through so much mental labour, the only acceptable response is: it’s okay.
However, over the years, the language and sincerity have lost their power. The beauty of the language has been reduced to a withered leaf on an unattended bush and sincerity is something that is only used to sign the bottom of letters to people you aren’t well acquainted with. But is it the language we have to blame for this or ourselves? Language is something man has created to communicate and communication should be alluring and lucid simultaneously, shouldn’t it? It’s this ability to communicate that sets us apart from other creatures. It’s what makes us expressive and progressive. But our attempt to make it lucid has stretched too far in recent times. And the meaning of our words have gotten lost along with the vowels in text messages.
I have made countless mistakes and I always make it a point to genuinely apologize. However, in the recent past, I can recall two such incidents when my apology has received the response I wasn’t expecting. I had failed to be forgiven. And this hurt much more than the realisation of having committed a mistake. It’s like bearing your heart to someone only for it to be trampled on. But for some reason, I feel like this lack of forgiveness isn’t completely personal. Our attempt at facilitating easier conversation has left our communication open to interpretation and ambiguity, giving rise to misunderstandings which probably didn’t exist when people believed that words were worth more of their time. Or maybe we have been conditioned to forgive unquestioningly but not to apologize sincerely. And as this sinks in, we tend to be less generous with our forgiveness as we realise how much they’re taken for granted. The ability to forgive also leaves us feeling quite powerful for we can control the fate of a persons emotions, may it be for a few days or even a couple of hours. Oh and aren’t we always thirsty for power! The possibilities are endless, just like the human mind.
Maybe it’s time we have some faith now. Faith in apologies, others and ourselves. For we are humans born to make mistakes and communicate. We may invent a number of machines that might simplify our task of communication but at the ends, it’s only words that we have and that’s all we’ll be left with.