First of all, this pithy thing is absolutely brilliant and reminded me that I should be having a better time than I am. This crazy moment should be a lot of fun because it’s so crazy (except that it’s so tragic, of course). And, for real, I was cheated during the Trump years. That promised to be the funniest of all funny times, but instead of laughing at ourselves in the corporate way that would have cleared the emotional fog and eventually allowed everyone to repent and get along, everything had to become the most serious thing ever. To illustrate this point, I will laboriously try to describe something I watched on youtube. I don’t want to actually link it, because a lot of what was discussed was objectionable, and I bet you won’t have time to go googling to find it and that will probably be to your benefit.
So anyway, every now and then I check in to see how Graham Norton is doing. He made his way into the public eye, as far as I can remember, by being so funny on Father Ted, which I’m pretty sure, like everything else, could not be filmed anymore. For many long years now he has hosted one of those celebrity interview programs where they all sit around drinking drinks and looking beautiful. The celebrity guests are supposed to tell gently embarrassing stories about themselves–the kind that aren’t really embarrassing, but that do make you laugh. The celebrity emerges unscathed, looking as splendid as ever, and Graham simpers and giggles. Also, there is always a musical guest.
So whichever episode I watched featured a not unpleasant singing young person, wearing fantastically tall boots with rather severe hair and a pleasant voice. Can’t remember her name, but the song was called “I’m Sorry.” I liked it enough that I will probably eventually look it up and listen to it again. In the song, the young person admitted to needing sometimes to apologize, but then going overboard and apologizing for everything. She does bad things, she crooned, but then she also over-apologizes for the bad things. It was quite clever really.
The song concluded, the young singer was invited over to join, for just a moment, the starlight of Minnie Driver, Courtney Cox, and two other extremely famous people whose names have escaped me. The singer was overcome both from the exertions of her performance and from being in the same place as so many famous people. But eventually, her nerves settled, she tried to answer the question about how she came to write the song. Not quoting her directly, because I can’t remember exactly, she explained that she is sometimes quite awful to the people she loves, but then, as the song says, she over apologizes. It was a straightforward answer, and, dare I say it, an extremely human predicament. All of us do sin occasionally, and then have to say sorry, but then make it worse by not letting it go.
But Minnie Driver and the other female guest whose name I have forgotten had to leap in and begin to shift the general discussion of apologizing to female empowerment in particular. Women have to always be the first to apologize, they said, and it is for nefarious reasons that they often go on and apologize too much, because of the patriarchy and so forth. They rescued the situation, in other words, from veering too closely into the terrible idea that women might sometimes have things to apologize for. Girl, they shouted, metaphorically of course–no one was actually shouting–DON’T APOLOGIZE.
And I thought to myself, as I so often do now, what a terribly stupid time to be alive.
Not to put too fine a point on it, saying you’re sorry so often that it becomes reflexive, habitual even, is one of the most sensible things you can do. Indeed, it is the last thing on my lips at night as I am falling asleep, and often the first thing in the morning, even when I haven’t done anything, in particular, to have to say it. In the first place, it disarms all my dear family. They are often angry with me for a variety of reasons. I have both yelled at and disappointed them. I have not put their needs before my own. I am a sinner. Of course, they are too, so they could say sorry to me, and generally they do because I am always doing it first. I mean, we might spiritually be Canadian. But is that bad? I don’t think so.
In the second place, saying sorry, while not technically repentance, is at least a gateway drug. You can be sorry about something and not actually repentant in a Christian sense. Judas, as we all know, was extremely sorry for what he did, but was not willing to turn away from himself and cling to Jesus. Being sorry is only the first step, and, if you go on saying it over and over, it can harden you, I think, to being able to let go of all the bad things you’ve done into the hands of the only one who can sort them out. But it is a first step, and if you preclude over half of the human population from ever saying it, or even feeling it, because they are so special and important, you are the most unkind person ever and you should apologize.
Have a nice day! Unless you don’t want to, in which case I’m sorry.