Article Review -- Don?t ask for an apology. Offer one instead. A lesson in forgiveness.

This article is important for all of us!

In every event you must learn to forgive

both yourself and others!

Don’t ask for an apology. Offer one instead. A lesson in forgiveness.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

You can easily imagine Professor Anita Hill’s bafflement
when she played back the messages on her answering
machine the other day. That’s when she heard this gem purportedly
left by Mrs. Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas,” said
the voice. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and
the years and ask you to consider something. I would love
you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation
of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some
thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand
why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Unsurprisingly, Hill thought it was a crank call, a prank. As
such she alerted the Brandeis University campus the matter.
But Virginia Thomas quickly confirmed that she indeed had placed the call.

Hill’s unsurprising reaction:

“Even if it wasn’t a prank, it was in no way conciliatory
for her to begin with the presumption that I did something
wrong in 1991. I simply testified to the truth of my
experience . For her to say otherwise is not extending
an olive branch, it’s accusatory.”

Hill continued. “I don’t apologize. I have no intention of
apologizing, and I stand by my testimony in 1991.”

Immediately there was a nationwide buzz about why, now,
after 19 long years, Thomas had reopened what could only
have been the most painful chapter in the lives of Clarence and
Virginia Thomas and Anita Hill.

Some thought that Thomas, a well-known Washington
lobbyist, wanted publicity for her firm. Surely,extending a supposed
olive branch (generating massive publicity) could only burnish her credentials.
Others laughingly suggested that with Christmas approaching Ginny was trying
to help out her husband by delivering Anita Hill’s apology on a silver
platter. That should have garnered quite a gift. Others, of a more cynical
disposition, thought that Mrs. Thomas was trying to divert attention
from Washington chatter about possible conflict of interest with
hubby Clarence.

And there were even those who opined that Ginny Hill had
this call bottled up inside for years; after all she was the 1 member
of the triangle who had never had the chance to say her piece
and one day just burst… and made the call.

However you slice it, though, the result made clear that hell will freeze
over before the parties engage in even the barest greeting, much
less an apology that would damn the person making it as one of
history’s great liars. So, don’t expect that apology anytime soon.

Own up to your errors. Don’t ask others to own up to theirs.

The hardest words in the English language to utter are “I am
sorry. I was wrong.” They are also the most necessary.

All of us, even the most perfect, are guilty of inflicting pain
and sorrow; of being careless of hurtful language; of lashing
out when we should have been comforting… of lying about
things we clearly knew… and every other sin in the calendar.

When we do these things, we have two quite different courses
of action to pursue.

1) we can say and do nothing.

2) or, we can attempt the more difficult course… the course
of apologizing without any idea of personal benefit.

Most people, of course, take the first course. It is, after all,
the easier. But to grow and gain serenity, you must take the

Who have you injured? Keep a list.

In Mozart’s masterpiece “Don Giovanni”, his servant Leporello
keeps a list (called, in the opera, a “catalog”) of his master’s
romantic conquests. His duet with one of his master’s victims
is one of the glories of music. Leporello, however, keeps this list
out of pride and duty; you must draw up yours out of humility.

Select a time and a place where you can be alone with your
thoughts and your purpose: to draw up a private list, for you
and you alone, of sins venial and cardinal. Privacy and honesty
are a must.

A superb time to do this is before the ending of any year;
say about Thanksgiving time. Your first task is to create the
list. Your second is to get a mailing address (preferably) or (less
good) an email address.

These matters should NEVER be addressed in a telephone
call. There both parties are likely to be nervous, awkward, saying
too much or too little. The reason the Roman Emperor Augustus
wrote letters to his wife, the Lady Livia, was so that both could
say concisely and clearly what they wanted to say, without the
burden of physical presence intruding. It’s an admirable insight.

Write the letters by hand

In our rushed society, so often alone amidst so many ways of
communicating, so clueless on how to engage with people we
care about… a written letter says volumes about the importance
with which you regard this matter. It is significant, and so a
hand-written letter is a must. Too, you must have personal
stationery… yet another indication that you regard this matter
as significant.

Keep your note short and sweet

The purpose of this message is not to remind your
correspondent of an unhappy incident; it is to ask forgiveness….
so that both parties may shuck off a burden from the past and
move on, the better for it.

It is to acknowledge the pain you have caused, no matter
that it may have been inadvertent, and to ask for the most meaningful
thing any human being can render: their understanding, their
empathy, their forgiveness, and, perhaps, another (belated) chance.

Dig deep into yourself as you write this note. This is the
best of you, and you are rendering a great gift which you
have every reason to savor and cherish, for it is a gift
long in the making.

Note: if you are doing this great deed of yours before
Christmas arrange to drop these messages in the post, to arrive
as close to December 25 as possible. These messages after all
require the right time and place to be read… and that is the best
time of all.

Now what about you, Virginia Thomas?

Virginia Thomas, take note. I have written these instructions for you.
The phone call you made was not only ill-advised; it was selfish. You
wanted what you were not prepared to give: an apology. As a result,
what you did was unconscionable; to stir up poisonous embers without
the slightest chance of lessoning the massive burden of events. For that,
use what I have suggested and ask for the forgiveness you were not prepared
to offer. That is the right thing to do.

About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of
Worldprofit, Inc., where
small and home-based businesses learn how to
profit online. Attend Dr. Lant’s live webcast
TODAY and receive 50,000 free guaranteed
visitors to the website of your choice! For details
on Dr. Lant’s 18 best-selling business books,
go to

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