Monday, September 26, 2011

Sorry,the magic word that does wonders

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness but strength

The Cambridge Online dictionary defines the word ‘sorry’ as  the feeling of sadness, sympathy, or disappointment, especially because something unpleasant has happened or been done and apology is an act of saying sorry. 

Today the vast majority of conflicts in our families, places of work,our society and the world in general are caused by people who refuse to apologize for whatever mistake they have committed or harm they could have caused to others. Even after proven wrong there are many who refuse to say sorry. The word “sorry” is such a simple word but is the most difficult to say as apologizing would mean admitting once guilt which our ego will not allow such humble act.

If only we have the humility to say sorry to those who are hurt by us, the world will be a better place for all as all inter-personal problems, misunderstandings and disputes can all be amicably solved. Every religion teaches repentance and forgiveness but lack of these basic virtues among their followers is the fundamental cause of inter-religious disputes and violence throughout the history of mankind.

I was impressed by the action of a friend who related an incident he encountered recently. His daughter after leaving school managed to get a job in an office. Apparently she had promised the employer that she would stay permanently in her job. However after some months she realized that she did not find the job suitable and she decided to resign and take some other career which she very much wanted. She submitted her resignation letter in accordance with the agreement but that was the start of the nightmares for this young and inexperienced girl facing the cruel world for the first time.

Her employer was very furious that she had breached the terms of her contract and he felt cheated by her for breaking her promise to stay long. He refused to pay her the final month salary and insisted she pay compensation for having “cheated” him resulting in financial losses for him. The young girl was so shocked and informed her father who was so angry that he reported to the labor office and the case was scheduled to be heard in the labor court.

When he confronted the boss, he was told rudely that he wanted a letter of apology from the girl, failing which he would meet her in court to claim compensation and ask the court to mete out other form of punishment for breach of trust. My friend and his wife were so angry that they refused to give in and were prepared to go to court.

On the eve of the court hearing, the father, being a God fearing man, spent some solitary moments reflecting on what was happening. He finally came to his senses that nobody was greater than God and if that God Himself wants him to apologize, there is nothing wrong to say sorry to the boss and leave the judgment to God Himself.

He quickly typed out the letter of apology and made her daughter sign it. The next day the girl submitted the letter to the employer who was quick to forgive her, pay her salary and withdrew the case against her. The problem was so quickly and easily solved just with a simple letter of apology, although the girl and her parents were convinced she did not do any friend too was so surprised that the speed and ease with the problem was settled amicably and this is what he has to say, “It may be extremely difficult and painful to say sorry to someone we may be angry with but it is worth doing so even if we feel we are right to avoid or solve a lot of heartaches and problems”. This I take as a advice for all of who meet with such problems daily in our own lives.
Apologizing is a virtue that is a basic tenet of every religion. As Christians we recite the “Lord’s Prayer” everyday asking God to “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. Do we really mean what we say in the prayer? Do we put into practice what we recite each day? Jesus was absolutely clear when he said, If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering”(Mathew 5:23-24).

In the next verse he says, “Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison” (Mathew 5:25).

These words of Jesus are so simple and needs no deciphering whatsoever. There is no point going all out to worship Him when we are unwilling to reconcile with those whom we have hurt, be it be our spouse, parents, children, siblings, friends or even enemies. 

My friend went to see his daughter’s employer with so much anger but after deep thought he adopted the way of Jesus which brought peace, goodwill and even justice in the end. All he had to do was humble himself to say sorry, the magic word that did wonders.

We too meet with such problems almost daily in our lives. Are we prepared to say the magic word “sorry” whenever we seem to have hurt someone even unintentionally? Are we willing to say sorry even to those whom we think are unjust to us? If only we can do that, like my friend, our life will be more peaceful and rewarding as humility in apologizing  is not a sign of weakness but strength.

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