“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”…a very old line adapted from a book from the 70’s, “Love Story” by Erich Segal. I was thinking about this ‘truism’ today and found that I disagreed wholeheartedly and realized that I did since the 70’s. It always felt like a false statement to me somehow, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve begun to figure out why.
If we are human we are certainly going to err: within our friendships, our relationships with co-workers, children, spouses and even the casual encounter. An unintended comment or even a purposeful one in the heat of an argument can cause deep pain in someone else, someone who we may or may not love.
But as a human, it’s my belief that we should try as hard as we can not to cause pain, physically or otherwise. It happens though–certainly I have many times with words. I’ve been quick with these words when I’ve felt my pain has been deep and have justified saying things that may have made sense to me but clearly hurt the other person.
With time, I usually try to say I’m sorry, but often hit against walls. Because love or caring means you do have to say you’re sorry.
Sorry only works when two people engage in an act together though. The other half of sorry is forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness may be “given” to someone unknowingly, as in the case of an estranged parent or sibling. And this kind of forgiveness we may be doing for ourselves.
But forgiveness when attached on the other end of sorry are like the fitting of a key into a lock that opens worlds of possibilities. If there had been love, and each person truly feel their part in this exchange, then a deeper connection is forged. I know because I have experienced it. You have gone through a war together and come out stronger, scars and all.
When the opposite happens and one gives and the other turns away, this then puts an end to hope and continuing the human connection. More often than not, I find this is the case–that most cannot or do not want to forgive or say they are sorry. Maybe they feel they are not responsible in any way and aren’t willing to give even a little for the sake of peace.
Or maybe it’s simply that people are just stuck–stuck in the muck of their lives and don’t have the energy, time or inclination to do something bigger because it takes too much energy. I really don’t know, but it always saddens me each time I see or experience it. Putting out the gesture of peace and having it denied seems somehow inhumane in the true sense of the word.
It saddens me because it reflects a greater truth about our world. That we as humans just can’t say we’re sorry or forgive one another on a global level either. Our pride, ego and ethnocentrism keeps us from simply admitting that maybe we too may have done something wrong and that for the greater good, we just need to let go as ethnic groups, countries and tribes.
The ability to complete the sorry/forgiveness cycle globally seems imperative to us as a human race in the long run. And while for me as an individual I know I’ve lost people along the way I continue to try. For the ones I’ve managed to keep because we’ve said we we’re sorry and forgave each other, I am extremely grateful. And for the rest, I can only hope someday they see that ultimately saying sorry and forgiving is really what the world needs for our interconnected futures.