What Is An Apology Really Worth?

A lot of people were sorry last week. Rick Ross, who has been under fire for “rape-y” lyrics, finally issued an apology via Twitter to fans, feminists and people who didn’t care either way. His apology: I don’t condone rape. Apologies for the #lyric interpreted as rape.  #BOSS

Whoopdy-doo.  Talk about a piss poor apology. It seemed that folks were most annoyed by the apology itself than what it was actually for. I am one of those people.

When someone offends or wrongs us, though we may wish they could take it back, we have to put on our grown folks clothes and acknowledge that they can’t. All you have to offer is your regret and sorry’s, so it just can’t be sub par. To me, that tweet meant absolutely nothing. He still holds to the idea that the lyrics didn’t spell out rape. WE interpreted them as such. To that I say, look up “rape” in the dictionary or talk to a victim then refer to your lyrics. But that’s another story for another day.

These days, what is an apology, really? Every time someone does something to bring them shame or cause outrage, they’re immediately MADE to spit out some sensational apology (hey Tiger!), as if that makes them a better person, if an apology is even needed at all.

It seems like everyone is saying they’re sorry for what they really meant to do or say. I’m sorry I had an extramarital affair. I’m sorry I made a racist remark. I’m sorry I wrote and recorded lyrics that implied rape. I’m sorry I said a beautiful woman is attractive. I didn’t really mean it. Blah, blah, blah.

Another thing to consider is why these apologies are given. Is it because the person who has been allegedly wronged the one requesting it or everyone else? Last week, a White House press secretary informed the press that President Obama privately apologized to Attorney General Kamala Harris for saying she is the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” I didn’t think his comments were out of line. The appointment makes it clear that the President respects her accomplishments and intellect, as he stated before his controversial comment. Who made that apology necessary? Harris or us?

We’ve done this though. The continual need for apologies by the public and even on a personal note has become so great, when we hear them, they don’t mean as much anymore. They hold little to no weight most times, even if they do pacify us for a brief moment. Hear me: Apologies are needed. Sometimes they’re needed to just keep the peace, like in the President’s case. Also, demanding them can be a major teaching moment for both parties. People can really be unaware of how and why they treat people the way they do. I’m not talking about those folks. I’m addressing the others.

I’d much rather people don’t apologize for things they made a conscious choice to do or say, especially if they know they’ll repeat the behavior again. Saying those two words “I’m sorry” can make us feel so validated, like that person really cares about our feelings. That moment is awesome, and depending on how deep the wound is, it can be all life-changing and all we need to reconcile. What hurts more though, is when the afterglow of the apology wears off and that person repeats the offense. What happens then?

See, the thing about apologies is the only person who gives it really knows the intentions of their heart, which determines the validity of it, period. The person who receives the apology makes a personal choice to believe and accept or not. What really matters in the end is action.

Sometimes you get apologies, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they’re sincere, other times they’re blatant lies. Either way, the ball is always in your court as to how to deal with it to move past the hurt.