By David Nsa and Margaret Adado
There are words and phrases in the English language which many now refer to as the ‘magic words’ due to the effect they have on people who hold such dear and as principles.
These include the word ‘Please’ and the phrase, ‘I am sorry.’ The Cambridge dictionary defines the adjective ‘Sorry” as: “feeling sadness, sympathy, or disappointment, especially because something unpleasant has happened or been done.”
There are many reasons why people say sorry. Some argue that the number of times sorry is used in either a phrase or sentence, is based on the cultural and educational background of the person intending to use the word. This school of thought also argues that the anticipation of the word sorry is based on a lot of factors similar to the person saying it.
Some moralists claim that in modern times, the percentage of people likely to say sorry is continually decreasing due to arrogance, perception, education and cultural background with many trying to justify their misdeeds through unnecessary arguments.
But, what do the experts say?
Dr. Stella Jack is the Head, Department of Guidance and Counseling in the University of Calabar. She told CrossRiverWatch that the African culture has made the masculine gender seem superior to the feminine gender which has made it difficult for men to say sorry, even when they are wrong.
She posited that people do not say sorry enough especially the men which often times, the repercussions are wrongly blamed on other things.
“The African idea of a man is that he is the boss and the boss is never wrong, So even when the boss knows that he is wrong, he finds it difficult to say sorry,” Dr. Jack said.
She continued: “He will find other ways to show he is sorry but it is difficult for him to say sorry, because it looks weak for somebody to say ‘I am sorry’ in an African way, So, it is the woman that says ‘I am sorry’”
When and how often do Cross Riverians say sorry?
Miss Blessing Hogan, a resident in Calabar who said despite many people knowing that apologizing in an appropriate and sincere manner could douse tensions especially in relationships, noted that, it was unfortunate not everybody says ‘I am sorry,’ in a sincere manner.
“Some will say ‘I am sorry’ because they feel they should say it while some are just fond of saying it,” Miss Hogan said.
She further queried: “How can somebody be saying ‘I am sorry’ and walk away and shouting at the top of his or her voice? That could make anybody get angrier and do something worse.”
Mr. Williams Ojun said it was a matter of self discipline hence, the number of times the phrase or word is used varies per individual.
Ojun, a civil servant said that: “It comes from the individual. If you are not self disciplined you can’t say I am sorry, because to you, you will think that you have reduced your self to a zero level. So, first of all you need to be disciplined, and you must have the fear of God in you whether you are wrong or right.”
On a personal level, he said: “I have decided to build up this habit in me to always say ‘I am sorry’ whether I am wrong or right in a particular situation.
For Mrs. Rosemary Andokie, a mother and wife, the upbringing of any human will determine when and how often that person uses either the word ‘sorry’ or the phrase, ‘I am sorry.’
“One day my husband was very busy in the office that he forgot to pick my kids from school on time, when he got there the kids were so angry that they had to scold him. Instead of reacting in an awkward way he knelt down with one knee and said ‘I am sorry.’ That melted the heart of my children.
“Do you know that when they (her children) got home my daughter told me that she was angry with herself for being angry with Daddy. With such a mindset, when they grow up and get married, making apologies to a partner wouldn’t become a very difficult thing for them to do,” she said.
A civil engineer who simply identified himself as Eyong opined that it was rare thing in the State.
“It is difficult oh. It is not easily gotten anywhere, because when once you are hurt in your comfort zone, where you should have rest if the place is not comfortable; in fact, when you get pissed off in places were you know very well you should be entertained, you should feel at home, when you get to the street you are angry, how do you tell somebody ‘I am sorry’ even when you know you hurt that person? It is not possible,” Eyong said.
He cited the inability of government to provide for the citizenry and the reactions of the masses as an example.
He said: “Now we all are aware what government should do for citizens, and we know the role citizens should play now for instance when you drive along the road you see road safety, police and what so ever who call themselves law enforcement, chasing people most times those people we know that we are wrong we will not say sorry because the government has failed on its part and nobody is chasing them. Why should they be chasing individuals that are also doing the same thing? that is the simple reason why it is difficult to say ‘I am sorry.’
“On this very road, you will see a policeman driving one way when he knows that it is wrong but let any other person drive the same one way, the police will be coming after you; why will you tell such a person ‘I am sorry?’
“The same thing you do and they give it a name that you are guilty of a particular crime or offence is the same thing that man is doing alongside with you on the same street so why would you tell him am sorry?”
However, he said there was need for people to apologise more even though there is anger at the failure of the government to protect the citizens. He said: “As many times as possible, whenever you know that you offended somebody you should say ‘I am sorry’ but the reverse is the case not because of anything special but because the government has failed to protect its citizens and citizens know very well the right they should be enjoying from the government is protection and they have not gotten it so why should they say I am sorry?”
Is there a religious angle to this? Majority of the population in Cross River State practice Christianity, and, Pastor Kris Ubana, the senior pastor of the Meshach international worship center said apologising was the most underutilized human resource.
“A humble heart felt apologies is perhaps the most underused resource for making things better. It has the power to heal wounds save marriages and restore families. It can be more effective than making practical amends, even in business it cut across every strata of life,” Ubana said.
Referring to the bible, the clergyman averred that: “The ability to apologise is borne out of the heart of love and humility; and the Bible says in the book of Hebrew chapter 12 verse 14 and 15 that we should strive for peace. If we have that heart of always looking for peace, we will be able to apologise when we offend even if someone offend us.
“The Bible says we should be kind to one another, it said we should be tender hearted we should forgive one another as God also forgives us in Christ.”
Pastor Ubana blamed the inability of apologising and using the phrase ‘I am sorry’ on pride and explained that the Bible was explicit on the issue.
“For us who are in the faith as Christians the Bible says even when we bring sacrifices before God no matter the things you want to do before God, if you remember that someone has something against you; not you even having something against the person, but someone having something against you; you should drop your gifts because such gifts will not be accepted before God; you should go and make amends and of course you know that the simplest way to make amends is to say “I am sorry.” But, like I said it is borne out of love and humility.
“The inability for someone to say ‘I am sorry’ is because the person is proud, pride is a very dangerous tool that can bring about a lot of chaos in our society but if we can deal with pride and embrace humility. There is nothing wrong for us to be able to tell someone ‘I am sorry’ when we are wrong or when we wrong people,” he said.
On how often the word or phrase is been used, Pastor Ubana averred that: “There is no time. Anytime you offend someone or someone offends you you say ‘I am sorry.’ It is from the heart, it is not a lip service thing. A man who wants to maintain peace and order will always or frequently say the words ‘I am sorry.”
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