Sorry for being Sorry

Why be sorry for something I did not intend to do? To be sorry is to sincerely regret an action done with clear intentions.  If I bump you on the streets, should I say “sorry” even if my intentions were not to bump you?  I did not want to bump  you, why should I regret it?  I can only regret what I did on purpose.  What should I say instead?  Forgive me?  It is the same as saying sorry, for it implies I knowingly did something that at the present time think should not have happened.  What about “Excuse me”? Isn’t excusing someone signifying that I am giving them permission to do something, like excusing someone to depart from a meeting that has not ended yet?  Why should I excuse myself for unintentionally bumping on someone on the street?  What should I say instead?  How about NOTHING?  “Oh no!”, you might think or say, “That is being rude!”  Nonsense!   If anything, I might ask the person if he or she was hurt by the bump, otherwise, I would keep my mouth shut and continue my way!  Arrogant?  No way!  Sincere?  Yes!

I absolutely (if I may use the “a” word in this context) have nothing against American culture, but please bare with me when I write the next few lines.   Is it me, or do people in the average American culture apologize and excuse themselves for anything and everything?  For instance, using the same example I used above, I am walking down the hall and I happen to accidentally bump into someone else. What is the first instinct that our parents taught us to do? Say excuse me.  That sounds so nice, doesn’t it.  It is the polite thing to do, right?  My questions is, why?  Why should I excuse myself for an accident?  If I am driving my car and crash with another car, should I also get out of my car, walk to the other driver whom I just had a crash with, and apologize or excuse myself?   Isn’t it more acceptable to ask the other driver if he or she is alright?  Why not when I bump into someone down a hall?  You think this is absurd comparison?  Well, I don’t, because the only difference between the two scenarios are the severity of the accident.

 

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