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Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2002 / 11 Teves 5763

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Consumer Reports

Apologies running rampant

The country is in a sorry state

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Senator Lott, doest thou know what thoust has wrought?

I am truly sorry I must write this, but the country, nay the world, may be facing one of the sorriest periods in its history. It's just...sorrowful.

No, I'm not talking about segregation. Sorry if I gave you that impression. I'm talking about the disturbing rising trend in apologies, set off by the Trent Lott apology issued by his office, his reapology to radio talker, Sean Hannity, followed immediately by a reaffirming apology on television to Larry King, where he also apologized for not actually being on camera. Senator Lott then gave a television press conference apology where he actually showed up in person to apologize. A number of television and radio networks carried that apology live, but only after apologizing to affiliates for having to break in to normal programming.

Obviously, Senator Lott doesn't believe in what Aldous Huxley once said -- "Several excuses are always less convincing than one. "

Lott's Apology Tour continues this week with a planned stop at Black Entertainment Television (BET). Don't be surprised if Lott shows up with Al Sharpton and calls for reparations.

The fact is, 2002 may come down to be known as the Year Of The Apology. Certainly the last couple days give that likelihood much credence. Take a look at the front page of most of Friday's newspapers. In addition to stories of Lott's press conference, Boston archdiocese Cardinal Bernard Law submitted his resignation to the Pope and begged forgiveness from "all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes."

Continuing the front page regret run Henry Kissinger apologized to President Bush for having to step down as head of the chairman of the Joint Commission to investigate the events of 9/11. This, just days after former Senator George Mitchell apologized for having to relinquish his position as vice-chairman on the same committee.

It's been sorry year. From Enron toWorldCom, CEOs, complicit boards of directors and conspiratorial accountants, have been apologizing to formerly well-pensioned investors and former employees for their misconduct. A New York courtroom just admitted that a group of teens found guilty of raping a Central Park jogger fourteen years ago were convicted and jailed wrongly. Prison sentences of seven to fourteen years served because of prosecutor errors. Sorry, guys.

You might ask if any of these people learned from their corruption, mistakes and blunders.? Did President Bush? But the real question is...did the rest of us? Are we actually growing from these mistakes? Can we be better for them? Just because we didn't participate in these particular peccadilloes, can we all exploit them as learning tools? Eleanor Roosevelt once said that "We should learn from others' mistakes. It's not like we have the time to make them all ourselves."

Perhaps we can actually squeeze some lemonade out of these series of lemons; appreciate that our life is a process made up of infinitesimal experiences and moments all fashioning us into who we are today. If we continue to breathe, our missteps, errors and misunderstandings are absolutely necessary for growth. They are the life-lessons that are essential for progress and enrichment. Without them, we would stagnate and wither away.

"A diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials." - Chinese Proverb

Other people and events can disappoint us. Even our own bodies and health fail us from time to time. But no matter the source of the faux pas or failure, it is vital to understand that it is our attitude and reaction toward any situation that can make all the difference. In other words, these mistakes, whether purposeful or only a slip, no matter how unfair, can be used a steppingstones to a better world.

And if you don't buy that. I apologize.

JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success," . the director/writer of "My Dinner With Ovitz," and opens car doors for students at his very young kids' school. His website is www.greatfailure.com. Comment by clicking here.

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09/23/02: Shrinking the waist problem: Using Good Old American Failure To Lose Inches
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02/15/02: Ken Lay sells soul to the devil: Beelzebub loses life's savings
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© 2002, Steve Young