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“I’m sorry” is something our parents forced us to say when we knocked a sibling over, took their stuff, or invaded their privacy. An apology can’t be forced though. It is more than the two words “I’m sorry.”  An apology is a promise to be better than what we are apologizing for. There is not only an element of repentance and reconciliation but restitution. That is what makes true apologies so difficult. It requires something of us, a sacrifice. It means we have skin in the game.

While repentance can’t be forced, restitution can. Which is why today’s society lives by the motto: deny, deny, deny. We no longer accept the consequences of our actions. We mumble “I’m sorry” if forced and move on. Is this the legacy we want for our children, a legacy of subterfuge and blame? If we don’t keep each other accountable how can we hold them accountable? And if we don’t hold them accountable for their actions how can we protect them?

I am not the leader type. I can do it. I have personality traits suited to it but I don’t like it. I would rather back someone I believed in. But I believe in leading by example and if no-one steps up then I will. I want my child to be different, to do the right thing even when it’s hard. I want her to be everything I wish I was, which means I have to try first. And that also means I am never allowed to mumble the words “I’m sorry” again. I have to mean them.

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