September 28, 2010

All our lives, we have been taught that if our actions cause harm to another, we ought to apologise.

Without a true feeling of regret, words mean nothing. Without the spoken words, the wronged person can never know that a feeling of regret even exists.

Without willing, unforced action taken to mend the wrong, words and feelings alike are meaningless.

That every act we take has consequences is as inevitable as the tides: yet unforced actions taken willingly to mend a previous wrong, without righteousness and without resentment, have much more weight than consequences forced upon us.

Regret, and apology, and willing action to undo the wrong. Together, they make up the three sorrys.

Perhaps one day we can come to accept that consequences are as much a part of the action as breathing, something to be understood and embraced as a part of the action and not something to be feared and avoided at all costs. Perhaps one day we will be willing to understand the difference between a briefly gratifying short-term gain and a long-term perspective on that gain, knowing with certainty that, had we the emotional awareness of today but the same limited information as we had at the time, we would still have taken exactly the same road. There will always be difficult choices: but perhaps one day we may have the wisdom to appreciate the human consequences of our actions, to see things always from the other's perspective, to know ourselves and be true to that knowing -- to avoid those actions which cause sorrow and are unnecessary, to take those actions we understand to be necessary with sorrow but without regret, and thus never to take an action that we will have to regret later.

Until that day, we have the three sorrys.

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