“I’m sorry” is one of the most common phrases in the English language, but probably one of the most misused.
Before I got married, I didn’t understand any of the art of how to apologise. I thought you did something, you recognised that it was wrong, you said sorry and you perhaps asked for forgiveness. I was missing out on huge swathes of psychology, intricacy and emotion behind the phrase.
Since getting married and learning both by experience and by reading, I have learned that there is so much more to apologising and I was certainly doing it incorrectly in the past. A quick rundown of some of the things that you’re probably doing wrong when you try to apologise:
It’s been about 6 weeks since Britons went to the polls and narrowly decided that they wanted to leave the European Union. I had some thoughts on the matter the day after the result, but perhaps the best autopsy on the result that I have seen thus far has been from Alexander Betts in a TED talk he gave just days after the result.
Alexander is a social scientist and works specifically in the field of migration and refugees. No matter which side of the fence you are on, it’s hard to deny the validity of Alexander’s arguments.
You’d be hard pushed to deny that there’s an issue with America’s justice system. Prisons are overloaded with young, petty, minority offenders and it’s costing us a lot of money. John Oliver has made a few videos now highlighting various issues within the system:
This TED talk from an entrepreneurial front-line social worker in the UK gives a very considered and honest discussion of how the modern welfare state was created (in 1940s Britain) and how it simply isn’t a model for today.
Rather than just bash the system, as we all love to do, Hilary Cottam has come up with a radical new approach to social services in which resources are spent directly on helping people rather than on a system which manages said people. In fact, by spending far less, she’s been able to make significant positive changes in the lives of many people in South London who are all now helping one another.
In a recent TED talk by Michael Kimmel he talks about how he came to see the world from the point of view of minorities such as women or black people. In a discussion with some of his peers he came to the conclusion that
Privilege is invisible to those who have it
He was talking about how as a white middle-class man, he was about as privileged as he could be, but he didn’t see the world that way because he saw how opportunities were being provided to women and racial minorities all around him. The experience of women and black people was different however, who still saw the world around them as it oppressed them.
I was raised as a Roman Catholic, though I gravitated towards atheism in my teen years and more recently back towards Christianity. Catholicism never particularly struck a chord with me as it features rituals, works and doctrines more heavily than I see necessary.
As such, I’ve often viewed Catholicism in a negative light as it seems to bind people up for the sake of tradition and money, rather than allowing people to be truly free.
Catholicism doesn’t exactly have a rosy image. It is seen as a money-hoarding, elitist, trust-breaking, abusive system stuck in the 1500s that has little care for humanity. And one can hardly blame the world for feeling that way given the stories that have come out of the organisation in the past 30 years.
Going hand-in-hand with Catholicism is the Pope himself. I’ve never thought much of the papacy but the election of Pope Francis in 2013 has changed my view of his office considerably.
I think that most people would agree that it’s important for them to feel safe in their relationships by knowing that they will be treated with dignity and respect and that any wrong can be reconciled amicably. This is chiefly seen in marriages and close friendships and I don’t know why we don’t treat our children the same way.
Most people seem to think that using phrases like “because I said so” are normal and acceptable, but I question that. Such phrases imply that there’s a servant and a master, rather than a level playing field. As for me and my wife, we think that our children are little humans with feelings and ideas. While we have a responsibility to protect them from the dangers that they may face, they can make their own decisions and we try to allow them to do so at every opportunity possible. We empower them to be responsible for and to themselves.
I kind of love how the gay community took to using the term “Love wins” to celebrate their victory in the Supreme Court a couple of weeks ago allowing them to marry in the United States in the same way that heterosexual couples can get married.
The gay community was using the term to express that the act, existence and expression has won out as a result of the decision and that millions of people can now love equally in the eyes of the United States government.
For a long time, “love wins” has been used by Christians to indicate how the teachings of Jesus (of love, not hate) reign supreme and should govern their actions. In fact, if you’ll notice, it’s part of my tagline on this very website. I believe that Christians ought to be known by their acts of love, rather than their bible bashing, vindication or bullhorn ministry.
A few months ago, my wife sent me a link to a podcast episode, because it featured a guest that I knew and she thought I might enjoy it. His name was Justin Stumvoll and he and the two hosts Wes and Ryan spoke intelligently for an hour about men, our sexuality, the fact that we’re emotional creatures and that real masculinity is not found in bravado, but in your confidence and humility.
It was an excellent episode that really engaged me, got me thinking and more importantly wasn’t a dull repeat of oft-repeated clichés: it was out-of-the-box thinking that challenged the status quo, dared to ask the questions that people shy away from and invited discussion, disagreement and debate.
It took me listening to this episode to realise how much I miss conversation like this. I’ve discussed previously how objectivity is so absent in America and how dearly I miss it.
30 years ago today, aside from the first ever episode of the most popular British soap Eastenders airing, I was born.
I absolutely couldn’t care less that I’m 30. I haven’t been dreading this day, nor do I attribute any sort of aging to it, any more so than any other day. However, a “n0” birthday is a milestone that only comes along once a decade so it seems like a perfect time for some reflection.
In the last 10 years, even more has changed. In February 2005, I was in my second year at university, was single, living with my Mum in the UK and I was working for the NHS. Over the next 5 years, I would meet and fall in love with Marti, graduate from university, become a Christian, move to the States to be with her, get married 60 days later, battle 8 months of being unable to work before getting my green card, a job, my driver’s license, a car and our first apartment in the space of about 4 weeks.
Reflection on who I am
As I think about the man I am today, where I’ve come from and the boy I used to be, I’ve noticed quite a few specific observations about how I’ve changed in particular and more general observations about how we as humans mature (or don’t).
The first thing is that nothing is given. Not only is nothing guaranteed but you’ll change in ways and do things that you would have never believed, conceived or thought possible.