I can only hope that my students were playing videogames or watching TV or playing with fire when Rick Santorum was speaking.

One of the most important lessons I try to teach my students is the importance of admitting a mistake and possessing the moral integrity to apologize and make it right. Ask any one of my students, past or present, how I feel about mistakes, and they will tell you that the first, best and most important step in getting out of trouble with me is admitting to the error, apologizing for the action, and executing a course to correct the error and avoid repeating it again.

This is so hard for some students, and it is understandable. They are ten years old. Their egos are fragile. They have much to learn.    

It is equally difficult for many adults, and this is a lot less understandable. I have watched colleagues, spouses, friends and relatives refuse to admit error and apologize, even when the person who they have so clearly wronged is someone they respect and love.

I have many, many faults.  In fact, I once listed them in a post and added an addendum a few days later. I should probably update that list soon. But an inability to admit fault and apologize is not one of them. I am an expert at admitting that I was wrong. I am the king of culpability. I admit fault and apologize even when I am not quite certain that I did anything wrong.

I do not support the requested or demanded apology, for reasons outlined here (and possibly also because of my oppositional nature), but otherwise, I am an expert at both making mistakes and apologizing for them.   

Admitting fault should not be difficult.

Apologizing should not be hard.

It is almost always the right thing, and yet for so many, it is so difficult. 

Case in point:

The idiocy of Rick Santorum, who said this in regards to apologies yesterday:

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday criticized President Obama for apologizing to Afghans this week for the burning of Qurans by NATO forces at a U.S. military base. “There was nothing deliberately done wrong here. This was something that happened as a mistake. Killing Americans in uniform is not a mistake,” Santorum said during ABC’s This Week. “Say it’s unfortunate … but to apologize for something that was not an intentional act is something that the president of the United States in my opinion should not have done … I think it shows weakness.”

I had to read this three times, because I have listened to ten year old students say almost these exact words.

“Yes, I ran into her on the playground, but it was an accident. I didn’t mean to hurt her. So why should I say I’m sorry?”

Seriously. These are the kinds of things that my students say. Sadly, they are also the kinds of things less enlightened adults who wish to become leaders of the free world say.

I didn’t mean it.

I didn’t do it intentionally.

It was an accident.

It’s not as bad as what she did.

I shouldn’t have to apologize for an honest mistake.

These are the comments of a person with a weak mind.

I cannot believe that I live in a world in which politicians criticize leaders for apologizing for mistakes. I cannot believe I live in a world in which the willingness to apologize is considered a weakness to some.

I can only hope that my students were not listening to this nonsense. I can only hope they they were playing videogames or watching cartoons or playing with fire when Santorum was being stupid, because even videogames and cartoons and pyromania would be better than listening to this lunacy. 

Every day I try to instill a foundation of moral integrity and a strong sense of self in my students. I try to teach them that the easiest way to forgiveness is through truth and sincerity. I try to make them understand that apologizing does not make you look weak. It demonstrates your strength of character.

Then an idiot like Rick Santorum comes along and tries to undo everything that I have tried so hard to teach my kids. 

Someone please tell that man to shut the hell up.

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One Response to I can only hope that my students were playing videogames or watching TV or playing with fire when Rick Santorum was speaking.

  1. Eva says:

    I applaud your thoughtfulness and sense of integrity. Your students are fortunate to have you.

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