My Thanksgiving Apology or Remorse – I’m Not Sure Which

Remorse? Apology?

For several years I’ve made a practice of listing 108 things I’m grateful for. This year (2017) I took a slightly different approach and wrote My White Privilege and an Apology for Thanksgiving.

It came out of something that had happened earlier in the week. Most Tuesdays members of the Sweetwater Zen Center practice something called “Council.” Since we were close to Thanksgiving the topic was gratitude.

Now part of Council is the idea that it’s more of a listening practice than anything else. We are urged to listen with our whole body and from the heart. When it’s our turn to talk it is suggested we also speak from the heart – in other words, say what is alive for us in the moment. For me this translates to not planning what I’m going to say while listening to you.

When it came to me I began with something pretty banal about gratitude, then heard myself begin to speak about my white privilege and how I wanted somehow to bring that knowledge into my annual list of 108 things I’m grateful for. I was rather stunned and as it turned out I was not alone.

When Thursday came, it took me a bit of dithering to really get started, and then it began to flow. And in fact the first six items were really an admission of gratitude for being white and learning about my white privileged. Then I went on with the usual.

It always feels risky

It always feels a bit risky to put something like that essay, and this one, out there in the world. Oh, my audience is small enough that I’m not likely to get in trouble, but you never know.

I did remove one link to a rather awful video that someone suggested was the real truth… not my real truth and it is my blog. Another emailed me privately and suggested I didn’t need to apologize and that might be talking down to others – I began a dialog. That comment also pointed out that I might need to clarify what I’m apologizing for or if apology is even the right word.

In fact, when I was talking about the post with my Master Mind group one woman asked if I meant apology or remorse.

Definitions defined apology as:

nounplural apologies.

1:  a written or spoken expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged anotherHe demanded an apology from me for calling him a crook.

2. a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine.
3. (initial capital letter, italicsa dialogue by Plato, centering on Socrates’ defense before the tribunal that condemned him to death.
 4. an inferior specimen or substitute; makeshift: The tramp wore a sad apology for a hat.

Remorse has fewer complications:

1. deep and painful regret for wrongdoing; compunction.
2. Obsolete. pity; compassion.
I think I was talking about a “deep and painful regret…” but remorse is included in the definition of apology. Maybe apology has taken on a bit of what, talking down to? While I’m pretty sure on what I meant, I’m now not at all sure I used the right word – today I’d choose remorse. Who knows, maybe I’ll remember that next year.
Tell us in comments what you think.
With love, blessings and abundance to all of us,
Anne Wayman: When Grandmother Speaks

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cait December 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Language is a tricky thing
when words won’t fit what the heart knows
a shift of perspective is a marvelous now
And then the work begins
we may invent new words and tone to fit
what the heart believes she knows
Then language weaves her own kin/ as
more than one/ becomes community and shares new songs sung

Ruthann December 3, 2017 at 12:03 am

I think that an apology (a correct, meaningful one) is putting your remorseful feelings into words. Remorse is a feeling, so has no words.
~ Just my thoughts ~

annew October 27, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Could be.

annew October 27, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Thanks Cait… nice…

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