After posting ‘Genuine apology or ‘Chulbul Pandey’ apology?’, I remembered an incident that had taken place during my final year in school.
One day, one of my classmates whistled loudly when our Mathematics teacher was writing on the blackboard. The teacher immediately turned around and asked who had whistled. When nobody owned up, he asked me, his favourite student, to identify the culprit. I knew who had whistled. I thought it was my duty to tell my teacher the truth. But, I knew if I did that, I would be considered a ‘squealer’. On the spur of the moment, I decided I didn’t want to be considered a ‘squealer’. I rationalized to myself that it was not a serious matter anyway. So I replied that I did not know who had whistled. The teacher angrily exclaimed, “I didn’t expect you to be a snake in the grass!” and continued his class.
He seemed to be his normal self during the next day’s Mathematics class. After the class, he called me outside and told me, “Yesterday, I spoke very harshly to you because I was upset. Later, I realised that you were in a delicate situation. If you had identified the culprit, your classmates would have felt betrayed. It was not correct on my part to speak harshly to you. I am sorry. I felt I should apologise to you in the class, but I thought over the matter and decided there’s no point in raking up the matter again. However, if you so desire, I will apologise in the class tomorrow.” I assured him that everybody, including me, had taken his comment very lightly, and, as he had pointed out, there was no point in raking up the matter again.
Till that day, I respected this teacher immensely. After this incident, my respect for him increased sharply!
I remember this incident whenever I see politicians, businessmen and other persons in public life make asses of themselves trying to defend indefensible acts of omission or commission committed by themselves or some member of their organisation, when it would be much simpler to accept facts and express regret.
I don’t think people lower themselves in any way by apologising for genuine mistakes. Why, then, do people find it so difficult to admit their mistakes and apologise for these mistakes?
In this regard, BJP leader L. K. Advani deserves praise for his written apology to Sonia Gandhi in February 2011 for having made unsubstantiated allegations that her family had black money in foreign bank accounts.
Do you think L. K. Advani’s apology was a sign of weakness? Or do you think it was a sign of strength of character?
What about other unsolicited apologies? Are they signs of weakness or are they signs of strength of character?