I once had a teacher who was rather adamant about people NOT apologizing for things they did wrong. He instead expected whoever was being addressed to understand what they did wrong, hopefully feel some level of remorse for the adverse effects they caused and to say instead that they would do their best not to repeat the same mistake. His thinking was that the apology only serves to make the apologizer feel better after doing wrong to another.
Another lesson I learned rather recently from another great teacher of mine, mainly my father, was in regards to thank you’s. I learned through one of his former students (he taught junior high for over 30 years) that he never thanked his employers upon receiving his paycheck. When asked why, he said “because I earned it! ” In essence, what point is there in thanking someone for doing what they were contractually obliged to do as an exchange for something you did for them?
I am not one to do things because (ad populum fallacy) it is a generally accepted practice. I do things because they make rational sense. The average person upon hearing either of the above two principles (without the associated explanation) would likely think “how rude!” Yet when they are explained, ([unreasonable] notions of ‘common courtesy aside’), they make logical sense.
Another similar situation that comes into play relates to intentions and motives. I tend to live my life as such that I do the least harm (by my own doing) to others as I am physically and logistically able to do. In this practice, I am very specific to differentiate between ‘harm I do’ and ‘harm others presume’ or ‘bring upon themselves’ as an indirect result of my own actions and as a direct result of theirs.
As an example, I am a hunter. I am an outspoken hunting advocate. Many people are not either. Some people are anti-hunting for reasons of their own. I used to ‘not’ be an outspoken hunting advocate for the latter two reasons, I did not want to offend anyone that didn’t share my views on the subject.
What I eventually learned (check my posting of “First Blood”) was that many people who may have been offended, were in fact ignorant as to what hunting was really about. The end result was that many times by being outspoken, I could enlighten people who simply didn’t know enough about the subject and practice. And for the others who ‘chose’ to remain ignorant, that was their own choice and therefore not my problem.
Similar can be said for other actions I have taken. I am prone, for example, to tell various off color jokes. I am very specific as to the ‘color’ I choose most often: Pollock jokes, musician jokes, blond jokes, hunter jokes. Is it because I wish to degrade the Polish, the musically inclined, blond haired people or hunters? In case you haven’t guessed, I choose those because I am a member of all four categories.
One might argue that it still helps proliferate stereotypes, but in fact, it is in a way a small means of protest. Our society today has what some have established as ‘protected groups’. (that don’t really include any of those I just listed) A black person, for example, has a far lesser negative stigma for referring to another black person with the ‘N’ word than someone of another race or skin color. Similarly, a gay person can refer to another with the ‘F’ word with the same consideration. So, as I often say when telling jokes from the first category above “I can use the ‘P’ word – so unless you are [also] Polish you better not!”
The above example comes down to motive. We live in a hyper sensitive, overly politicized society where more often than not, people are being called upon to apologize for things said where the ‘perception’ of it did not match the ‘intention’. If the intention did not contain malice, then where is the ‘reason’ for an apology? Or as per the first example with my teacher in regards to these kind of modern inanities, where is the reason for remorse and a will ‘not to do it again’. Do what???
A mistake that does another harm is when you knowingly take an action that will obviously or through carelessness do another harm (without their intervening to make it so). If another miss-takes [pun intentional] something you say or do as malicious or insensitive when it wasn’t intended to be, it requires judgment on their part to lead to their misconception, not (necessarily) anything of your own doing.
Does this mean that there may not be the occasional misunderstanding or confusion? Of course not. But if the litmus test for life is to not do anything that ‘may’ cause another harm because ‘they’ may pre-judge your intentions or motives as being less than admirable, we’d all be tiptoeing around life way way too much to exist reasonably!
(see also: Selective Accountability)