Thursday, July 01, 2010

Why So Many Apologies?

There's a trend that has been going on for some time but that really caught my attention recently: The effort our governments go through to try to make past wrongs right by saying "Sorry".

Two cases in point:

1. In 2008, Stephen Harper made an apology regarding Indian residential schools. The details of the schools is beyond the scope of this article, but see the link for details. Obviously, some wrongs were done, and those affected should be compensated. But should our current Prime Minister be saying "I'm sorry" for actions taken by people as far back as the 1800's?

2. Currently, the City of New Westminster is preparing an apology to the Chinese community who it says were discriminated against. Surely this is for recent abuses? Read the article, which states that the council minutes that describe the discrimination occurred between 1860 and 1926.

To be clear, I believe in doing things right the first time, apologizing when you do something wrong, and for compensating those you may have hurt. What I don't agree with is apologizing on behalf of someone else for their actions. It becomes rather ridiculous to start digging up the the history of over 100 years ago, finding fault in other people's actions because they don't meet with today's standards, and then trying to fix it by saying "Sorry". Especially in the case of New Westminster, it makes me wonder about the amount of free time they must have to take on a project like this when so many current problems exist in BC.

What I would rather see is a simple acknowledgment that something was done that we don't feel was right, and a concerted effort to bring things back into line. This would actually have some meaning, and a long term effect.

To our governments, small and large: Please stop saying "I'm sorry". Fix the wrongs, and get back to fixing the problems of today. After all, actions speak louder than words, and a "Sorry" from the wrong person is exceedingly hollow.

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3 Smart Remarks:

Anonymous Briana said...

You'd be amazed at the pressure put on New West to participate in the "reconciliation" process. A small advocacy group worked the media machine and shamed the city over and over in newspaper articles and editorials. The demands of Canadians for Reconciliation went far beyond an apology. You can see some of the ridiculous claims and our rebuttal here: http://www.tenthtothefraser.ca/2009/06/05/a-critical-eye-on-canadians-for-reconciliation/

I feel sorry for anyone who was oppressed or discriminated against by another group, but I agree with you that it's ridiculous to ask people to apologize for what their ancestors did - especially when our society has already changed its behaviour and no longer continues these practices.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Susanna said...

Exactly! We have nothing to do with what our ancestors have done in the past, and the people asking for apologies have nothing to do with what their ancestors have done or have had done to them in the past.

I think people are just looking for handouts.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous heb said...

well said Andrew

11:08 AM  

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