The reference in yesterday’s post to President Biden’s apology caused me to think about the art of apology. Though he had plenty of material with which to work, Mr. Biden’s predecessor refrained from venturing into this art form. Perhaps he is never wrong. Maybe he has a blind spot. Or, he may be living into the philosophy expressed in Love Story, the 1970 movie in which Jennifer Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw) said to Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal), “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Jenny’s line conveyed forgiveness. Later, Oliver used those words to tell a dying Jenny that no apology is necessary. However, a genuine apology can defuse anger, overcome bitterness and restore personal and corporate relationships. A heartfelt apology builds bridges of civility, honesty and reality–elements in short supply these days. The art of apology dispels illusion and builds community. The ability to apologize reveals one’s great inner power–not a weakness to fear but a strength to embrace.