One only has to have the news on for a few minutes to hear another item on someone issuing a public apology, followed by a stream of analysis of it.
While some feel that it is rare for a modern public figure to apologise, I think rather the opposite.
Football commentator Andy Gray apologised for comments he made if they caused offence, but was quick to point out it was not his fault they were broadcast – they were really only for the lads in the studio.
Actress Hilary Swank said she deeply regretted attending a birthday party for the torture loving Chechen President – but noted that she could not be responsible for researching the human rights record of every person whose party she attended.
Rebekah Brooks apologised as she resigned from her position as chief executive of News International saying: “I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt, and I reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know.”
Indeed far from Elton John’s song ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’, sorry seems to have become one of the easiest – the intentions behind it however seem harder to analyse.
Nick Smith, the author of I Was Wrong, points out that apologies cannot be designated to a proxy but rather must be a serious undertaking by an individual themselves and they must do so completely and sincerely.
Many of us are guilty of abusing the word sorry and no doubt of ruminating on the results of a sincere apology, will we open ourselves up to hurt or humiliation, will we look weak or incompetent?
Maimonides teaches that the first step of a true apology is to look to ourselves and see if we can admit in our hearts what we did wrong. The words can be simple as long as they are heartfelt and remorseful.
Sincerity is also displayed through reparations. While not always possible it helps if the apologiser can return something that they have taken from another person – their material possessions, their dignity, their pride or their good name.
If someone has wronged someone publically then an apology requires a public component and when there is no way back, no way to correct the hurt then asking the person how we can help restore balance to the relationship is a great beginning.
Now who wants to tell Ken Livingstone or Sean Spicer?