These silly analogies really bug me. People all jump on the band-wagon and say things like “wow that’s really clever” and “so true”. But is this analogy really all that clever? Is it really all that true?
The moral of this analogy is basically that if you ever do something wrong in life, and hurt somebody in the process, you shouldn’t bother to say sorry because apologies don’t matter. They don’t fix anything.
But I think a genuine apology does matter. And more than that, I think in many cases it can repair a broken relationship. An admission of your own wrong-doing, an acknowledgement of the hurt you caused, and a promise to put it right, is a powerful thing.
Of course, it is easy to imagine some wrong-doing for which an apology (even a genuine one) is not enough. Sometimes, as a result of the wrong-doing, trust is broken in the relationship. Once trust has been broken, the road to recovery is long. And uphill. And riddled with swamp. And sometimes, the road isn’t even open in the first place. Yes, I know; another analogy.
Does this mean you shouldn’t bother with your apology? That ‘sorry’ doesn’t matter? No!
The apology in these cases is just the first step on a long road towards earning back trust. Sometimes, regardless of the apology, the opportunity to earn back trust and fix what you did is simply not open to you, and nor will it ever be. These are the cases where the plate stays broken. It doesn’t stay broken because apologies don’t matter, though. It stays broken because it’s not possible to earn back the trust, or because the victim of your behaviour doesn’t want you to earn back the trust. Even in these cases, an apology is not useless. Surely it can only help to show someone that you take responsibility (or at least a share of the responsibility), and that you admit what you did wrong? Even if the plate is destined to stay broken forever, the apology at least offers some closure.
These silly analogies bug me.