Mayfield: Sorry doesn’t come easy for Boomers
I blame Erich Segal.
For those of you of a different, less decaying, generation, Segal was a professor at Yale back in 1970 when he published a blockbuster of a novel, “Love Story,” that began with a blatant lie that pretty much sealed the miserable fate of Baby Boomers forever.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” was the opening line that wreaked such moral devastation. Can you believe several million of us, then in our 20s now in our 60s, actually bought into such claptrap? Sad to say it’s true and the proof can be verified in a myriad of ways ” from record-breaking divorce rates to a host of addictive activities we’ve foisted on future generations. Most spectacularly, I suppose, were the anti-apologetics of our last two Baby-Boomer presidents. Mr. Clinton squeaked out his sad-eyed sorry only after doing everything he could to validate Segal’s lie, including lying. As for G.W., he’s still convinced Segal was right. Destroying a nation’s reputation, wasting billions of dollars and thousands of lives on an ill-conceived act of imperialism, ignoring natural disasters while creating a few of his own, were never enough, it seemed, for the former president to acknowledge even the slightest sign of regret.
So it is more than a little refreshing this week to find our current Chief Exec offering “mea culpas” on all the major networks and C-Span to boot. Obama’s very public apologies came as something of a pleasant surprise to those of us worried that Washington was back to business as usual despite the change of administrations.
It would be nice if our president reversed the Baby-Booming reluctance to say “I’m sorry” that has bound us Boomers to lives of equal parts self-centeredness and self-delusion.
I can’t say I’m all that hopeful about our prospects for change following several sorry examples of apology-demanding behavior in recent days. Take, for instance, the doctors involved with the birth of octuplets to a single mom in Southern California last week. One can’t help but wonder if the fertility specialists implanting embryos in the woman’s well-used uterus were even aware she’d already delivered six children in the past seven years, was without a job or a domestic partner, and lives in a small three-bedroom home with her parents who last year declared bankruptcy themselves. Hmm. The news and photos I’ve seen of the smiling Kaiser docs seems to indicate they hadn’t even a hint of hesitancy about the whole thing. Does the pursuit of science mean never having to say you’re sorry, too?
“Sorry!” certainly wasn’t on the lips of the girl’s basketball coach at The Covenant School in Dallas, after the Christian-based institution ran up a score of 100-0 over a team from The Dallas Academy which provides education for learning-disabled children. “Although a wide-margin victory is never evidence of compassion, my girls played with honor and integrity and showed respect to Dallas Academy,” claimed Coach Micah Grimes who, it should be noted, is now ex-Coach Micah after his school had no hesitation in offering an apology to the girls from Dallas Academy, forfeiting the game to their opponents and firing their unapologetic coach. I’ll bet this coach has little trouble finding another team to lead into basketball battles. After all, we all know that winning means never having to say you’re sorry.
The pope came perilously close to apologizing for his appalling actions of a week ago when he welcomed a quartet of anti-Semites back from damnation. This week, the public relations challenged pontiff made it clear that a few things would have to change before the four former bishops could get their miters back … but still no official “Oops!” from the heir of St. Peter. I guess being infallible means never having to say you’re sorry, either.
I, for one, appreciate the precedent our president has set. It’s good to know we’ve got a leader who can admit mistakes and mend his ways. Of course, too many more mistakes that need to be admitted just might have us longing for the bad old days when saying your sorry was for suckers who hadn’t yet read Erich Segal.
Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.” E-mail comments about this column to email@example.com.
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