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Seriously Sorry--Really?

By Steve Wickham

In so many instances of class action there's one party - usually an organisation, a government, or nation - that's taken unfair, even abusive or neglectful, advantage of other parties. Sometimes to the point of criminality.

It's amazing, then, how often these massive entities have shirked their moral responsibilities, not owning up to their mistakes - not apologising when they should. As a result they find themselves at the sharp end of dispute, bad press and legal action. They still refuse to admit they did anything wrong. Damage control ensues.

The 'victims' don't really need (or possibly even want) compensation, but they do need justice and closure. That's the reparation and restitution they require.

The morally adroit conglomerate will earn the respect of the masses; the lesser-so organisations will fall to a woeful peril.


Insincere apologies are fraught with danger.

Trust that is so abused won't be so easily persuaded the second time around. It's going to be wary, sceptical, even cynical. Apologies are necessarily swift and meaningful - with full depth of ownership taken for the negligent, thoughtless or vagrantly caring action.

Such a depth of ownership assumes, in the matter of taking it, an essence of vulnerability. In other words, it trusts the aggrieved party with the substance of the apology, even giving sufficient room for it to strike back to even the score - which rarely happens.


There is an unconventional wisdom involved in the idea that vulnerability - the courage to be openly vulnerable, in this case by admitting error - attracts grace. It runs against the grain of the litigious world.

Such a world is always running in fear from the truth it cannot control. Such a world seeks to gain control over everything it can. Then it denies the presence of the little it can't.

Such a world doesn't understand the power in the economy of trust.

The honest and quietly-confident-in-contrition vulnerable person, however, accept in courage whatever will come from their dealing in truth. They somehow know that safety is known at higher ground - the lapping waters of the tsunami just out of reach before they flow back from whence they came.


There's nothing to be afraid of so far as the truth's concerned. Being able to be entirely truthful in our apologies is a massive freedom, for we're quickly able to be ourselves. Some of us, I venture to say, may've forgotten what truly being ourselves, in this way, is about. Living in fear is a one way ticket departing from the real self; there's no promise of return.

Yet, being humbly and vulnerably honest is that return - to ourselves and to God.

It will be blessed.

Copyright (c) 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Steve Wickham is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc, FSIA, RSP[Australia]) and a qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min). His blogs are at: and

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