Saturday, 16 July 2011

Saying Sorry Isn't Enough

I've just finished trawling through several pages in The Guardian about the News of the World scandal, which The Guardian is making the most of for its own purposes.

Along with every other UK national newspaper it includes the full-page 'We are Sorry' advert signed by Rupert Murdoch. Anxious to preserve its own reputation The Guardian makes it clear that the revenue received from News Corporation for this advert is being donated to charity. (They don't say which charity.)

There will no doubt be many more revelations to come (or dirt dug up) on this story and invevitably and justifiably British trust in our institutions will be further eroded.

Looking at the 'We are Sorry..' ad made me think about the whole issue of owning up to wrong-doing and attempting to put things right. I have grandchildren at an age where parental prompting to 'say sorry' e.g. for thumping a sibling and face the consequences is a necessary part of their education. Sometimes children (and adults) say sorry when what they really mean is they are sorry to have been found out when they had hoped to get away with it. This sort of being sorry is definitely not enough.

Why is saying sorry not enough? I see it as only one part of a process, a process which involves
  1. Recognizing and privately or publicly acknowledging that a wrong has been committed.
  2. Experiencing a sense of contrition.
  3. Saying sorry.
  4. Repenting i.e. changing attitude, turning round to a new direction, resolving to live differently.
  5. Repairing relationships damaged by the wrong.
  6. Making restitution where that is possible.
More of this in a post to follow in a day or so.

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