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Friday Reflection - I'm Sorry 29-4-2022

When did it become unpopular to apologize or say you were mistaken? As kids, we are taught about right and wrong, and we are taught to say sorry when we make a mistake. That includes apologizing to the person we may have wronged. This is a fundamental part of our societal integration. It is essential that we learn to do this and learn why we must do it. Increasingly, however, we are seeing people who are unwilling to do that very thing, even in the face of their being wrong.

Case in point is a conversation I saw on a Facebook group recently. Someone (let’s call them “the Seller”) was selling their pre-purchased cemetery plot and on the advertisement, another person (we’ll call them “the Commenter”) noted that it was against the law to do so. The Seller’s response was quick and factual – in other words not emotional or obnoxious. They even provided the link to the Government of Ontario website that showed what they were doing was lawful. I cannot say whether the Commenter visited the site and read the information or not but their response – even in the face of the factual Government of Ontario website – was to cast aspersions on the Seller.

“Really, [sic] u must be lucky my uncle was charged so guess you must be specialThe underline emphasis is mine.

In other words, the Commenter did not have time or regard for the facts placed before them; did not care to consider that the law had been changed since that time; did not care to revisit or revise their contribution to the conversation. Instead, they doubled down and subtly insulted the Seller.

I checked the rest of the conversation to see if the Commenter had, at any point, thereafter, provided an apology or even acknowledged that things had changed since the time their uncle was charged with was might have then been an offence. There was nothing. No response. No apology. The Commenter had abandoned the conversation. Nevertheless, the Seller’s reply speaks volumes as they were quickly able to discern that the Commenter had not read the information on the website. Yet their response was not righteous indignation. They maturely tried to disarm the potential bomb by once again pointing to the source of the information.

What does this little interaction tell us?

We’ve all become such experts on what we believe to be true that we have lost sight of the ability to correctly discern between what is true and false. This is what happens when entitled people try to subvert the conversation and make it about them. It’s no longer about the provable facts. They will manufacture those if they need to. What is factual in the Commenter’s case is that we do not know the particulars of why their uncle was charged. We do not know how long ago this was. We do not know what the result of the court case was. But the Commenter, without providing any of that information, thinks it is enough. Yet in the face of the Seller consulting with their attorney and providing a link to the Government of Ontario’s website where – if you were to read it – it proves its legality, the Commenter instead abandons the conversation.

How do we move on from here?

My simple answer is I have no clue. This is an example of the type of conversations that are being held everywhere in the public sphere. Instead of hills, people are choosing mounds to die on. For the simplest and most provable facts, they are choosing to dig their heels in the sand and stand defiantly against it. There is no longer middle ground. No place, where people on different sides of an issue can sit break bread in peace. Instead, we draw lines in the sand and take up arms to defend our indefensible positions. “We believe it, so it must be true!”

I believe that it is this attitude that will be humanity’s downfall. Unless as a species we can find a way to come back from this precipice, we will all collectively – holding on frenetically to our indefensible positions – fall blindly into the abyss.

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