I think it also makes a difference when one clients wish to render an apology versus being asked to provide an apology. I'm seriously baffled by those that request them, even when they are aware that they are meaningless.
Theresa , Mesa AZ 09/04/13
Yes, you do bring out good points on apologies. I found (when I was mediating) that mediators also were clueless in how to help those who wanted to apologize. Mediators also hindered children from apologizing (when adults and children were involved in the mediation process) b/c mediators believed that it would be too embarrassing for the adult (who also was the source of the conflict). I also found that Hispanics/Mexicans and Native Americans were more willing to apologize and to also accept apologies (in lieu of money in some cases ... though they wanted a complete explanation for the person's actions). Mediators also do not know how to include an apology in the agreement b/c they believe the court does not want to see it. Mediators are also suspicious that the person is just wanting to gain sympathy and get out of paying lesser restitution. Too often mediators interject their own conclusions and feelings into the process (e.g., passing judgment) and squash any opportunities for allowing forgiveness into the process. People need to understand that apologies may not be accepted (today, tomorrow or years to come) but that it takes greater strength to apologize than most people realize.
Clarence , New York 09/04/13
You bring up some good (and interesting) points on the subject of apology/contrition. Over the past two years, I have struggled (immensely) over this very issue. It seems as though apologies are often empty, and this, it seems, as more to do with the way we are taught as children. Parents, teachers and virtually anyone in a position of authority prompt children to apologize when they hurt or upset someone, which makes this more of a reflexive action than a genuine one. The foundation you speak of has to start early, as unlearning bad habits (such as the empty and meaningless apology) is a challenge for those that wish to unlearn them, and almost impossible for those that have no desire to change this behavior.
The path to forgiveness is indeed a challenging one, but how do we reconcile this when those on the receiving end of the apology are content with the empty ones?