When apologies are deeply rooted in confession, contrition, a recognition of the damage that one has done and one’s implication in the hurt of others-- in the context of genuine repentance and confession with a goal of restoration of integrity, restoration of relationships and restitution for damage done, then apologies have depth.
That doesn't sound like a Republican functionary after a visit to I'm Sorry Rush, or whatever non-satiric equivalent Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele visited after speaking dismissively of conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh last week.
Republican political apologies were just part of a recent blizzard of recent, high-profile apologies.
Those included "Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez, who apologized for using steroids; Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, who apologized for smoking marijuana; The New York Post, which apologized for but defended a cartoon with racist images; and former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, who apologized for not paying taxes that he owed."
Carder told Linda Green of the United Methodist News Service that the church has “contributed" to the "superficiality” which is the distinguishing characteristic of most of those public apologies.
For at the heart of the Christian community is the practice of confession, assurance of forgiveness and reconciliation. A tradition that has been less well-practiced of late, Carder said. Prayers of confession have been eliminated from many worship services. That example has broader social consequences:
But, when we, as a church, no longer practice confession, forgiveness and accountability, we should not be surprised if the broader culture substitutes for genuine confession a political spin or superficial healing of wounds.
There are, then, three general requirements to meet if one is to make a sincere apology. Genuine apology requires an understanding of the harm done, a commitment to personal change so that one does not inflict that kind of harm again, and some kind of restitution, Methodist ethicists explained.
“A false apology is usually accompanied by bogus or insincere guilt, which is often confused with appropriate shame,” said Theodore Dalrymple, a physician and author of “Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses.” In our current rush of public apologies, the understanding, commitment to personal change and any but superficial restitution all appear to be absent.
Clearly, the week was marked by a rush of false apologies and their well-earned ridicule. We are rich in bad behavior.