The Sorry State of Saying "I'm Sorry"

"I said I was sorry!" Any parent has heard these words used in attempt to avoid consequences for whatever action necessitated the "apology" from their child. Just today my 7-year-old tried to pull this trick after snatching a toy away from her little sister. Her defense tactic was so obvious it almost made me laugh. It also reminded me of so many press conferences I've seen in recent days: Politicians caught in compromising situations, baseball players caught cheating, and entertainers seen doing something embarrassing while under the influence. They all have something in common: They respond like second-graders.

I don't write this to downplay the significance of a sincere apology -- without them, reconciliation and the healing of hurts can never happen. What I'm referring to is the culture of obligatory public apology that fills our TV screens and newsfeeds with insincerity. I'’s risky to challenge any apology since it calls motivation into question, but sometimes it's as clear as a 7-year-old's self-defense tactics.

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