How To Make An Apology

Apology on Van

Press Association/Associated Press

This week a man in the UK demonstrated a new and creative way of making an apology to his lover. He parked a van, labeled with a confession, at the intersection of a major thouroughfare.

While we’ll probably never know the outcome of his apology you really do have to give him style points for trying.

The hard thing about apologies is often in knowing whether or not you’ve made a good one.

You’ve probably seen a bad apology before.

Like that time the Baseball player apologized for nothing in particular, and who could forget the “apology” Chris Brown made to Good Morning America?

Here’s something I’ve learned over the years: If you ever end up having to make an apology for the apology that you just made, then you are probably also, like me, a man.

You’ve probably also been on the recieving end of a bad apology before.

Like that time somebody blamed circumstances or another person.

Or that other time when somebody apologized for “if what I did offended you”.

Maybe they apologized to you by text, email, or twitter.

Sometimes a person’s apology features a giant ” but…” somewhere along the way

Some people think that just saying “sorry”, and then sighing, counts for something.

The fact that you know just what I’m talking about suggests that the state of the American apology is in disarray.

So what does a good apology look like?

Having apologized and failed many times has taught me a good deal about how to make an apology that means something to the offended person.

Follow these 5 tips and you’ll never have to wonder if you simply made a mistake, or you are an actual jerk.

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The Blue Plane

Growing up as a poor Baptist child in the 1970’s, I went to church three times… per Sunday.

Every Sunday started with Sunday school classes.  Sunday school classes were the most fun part of church because there was generally some coloring and a graham cracker involved. You also got to be with other kids your age and a nice old lady who made sure that “everyone” had his eyes closed during prayer.

Immediately following Sunday school was the church service. The only fun part of church service was the standing up on the pew during the first and the second song so you could help your mom hold the hymnal.  Immediately following the second song everyone sat down to sing verses one and four of the third song while the ushers passed out the gold offering plates.

After the plates were collected the sermon began and you were in for a 60-minute test of childhood endurance.  Your only hope was that there might be communion tables set out at the front because that meant the preacher was going to have to cut the sermon short by ten minutes.

After church you’d go home, take off your church clothes, and be free for about 4 hours until, just as Battlestar Galactica was starting, you’d have to pile back in the car so you could go to “The Evening Service”.

Now unlike the prefabricated, flannel graph world of Sunday school and the staid, organ driven pomp of the church service, evening service was a completely different animal.

I don’t know who was in charge of planning evening services at our church, but whoever it was, was a marketing mastermind, because ANYTHING could happen during evening service.

Some nights were good:
You might show up and there would be missionaries from Borneo presenting a slide show and saying their names in Bornese!  Other times there might be a singing group filled with beautiful girls drumming up business for a Bible college.

Some nights were bad:
Like a whole night of singing hymns.  Adults would call out the number of a song in the hymnal and then the whole church would join in.  The only fun part was calling out a number between 419 and 500 which were the Christmas carols and patriotic songs (both of which were out-of-place in mid-April.)

Worse yet, there also seemed to be an endless supply of musical families traveling across America in Airstream trailers.  Dad on the piano, mom and the girls singing, the oldest brother with a banjo, and the littlest one with a sock puppet.

Evening service was a veritable cornucopia of possibilities, but no possibility was greater than that of the itinerant Gospel “ventrillusionist.”  The Gospel ventrillusionist was a man who traveled the country, in the name of Jesus, with a talking puppet and a magic set.

He would generally show up on a Sunday night and then have meetings every evening of the week culminating in a big super spectacular on Friday night!  It was this guy’s job to do magic tricks and terrify us with his freaky puppet, and it was our job to memorize Bible verses and bring our friends.

Usually he would give you a Bible bookmark with a spot for your name on it, and then for every Bible verse you memorized or friend you brought you would get a hole punch in the bookmark.  At the Friday spectacular all of the kids would turn in their bookmark for various toys and nominal candy prizes.

I got really excited when I looked in the prize box and saw a toy airplane.  It was blue plastic with foam wings and a rubber band powered propeller.  I knew then that I would do whatever it took to make that airplane mine.

I brought every kid I knew to see this guy. I memorized every verse on the list and for extra credit I drew out the First, Second, and Third Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul from the maps in my 1611 KJV Bible.

I got a ton of hole punches.

Friday night came and everyone turned in their bookmark.  After the tabulations they started calling names and lining kids up in the order that would be allowed to pick out of the prize box.  They called my older brother’s name first and then a couple of his friends.  I knew I should be next, but instead they just kept calling out other kids names.

I knew that there had to be a mistake because a couple of kids that I brought got their names called before me, and they didn’t even come that first night!

They never called my name.

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The Weight Of Free Speech

Mohammed Abu Zaid

David Lin hopes to open a restaurant next year and his strategy is bit different. While good food will be on the menu, the exterior of his restaurant features a mural depicting Chinese police officers beating a demonstrator while a Tibetan monk sets himself on fire.  Lin says that it’s a political statement about China’s human rights abuses.

Of course the Chinese government disapproves.

Last week two government officials wanted to have the mural removed.

They ran into a bit of a problem, David Lin doesn’t live in China, he lives in Corvallis, Oregon. The Taiwanese immigrant wants everyone to know that he is opposed to the communist government of China.  The Chinese government sent the officials from their consulate in San Francisco to see if the Mayor of Corvallis would put an end to Mr Lin’s mural.

Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning refused.  She explained to the men that Americans have the right to say what they want to say.  That right is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  That Constitution is one of the reasons Mr. Lin moved  to the United States.

What’s interesting is that the Government of China travelled all the way to Oregon to see if our government would take away Mr Lin’s right to express his opinion.  I suppoe this didn’t seem odd to them because they not only oppose free speech, they have also never experienced it… or its side effects.

If it sounds oppressive and fascist that someone would not only monitor what is being said about their country in someone else’s country, and then travel to that other country to try to get them to enforce your laws in their country, you probably also wouldn’t like what happened in Libya this week.

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