Age of Apologies

Discussion in 'BOARDANIA' started by chrisjordan, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. chrisjordan New Member

    I'm not normally one for posting news links, but this one, for some reason, caught my eye:

    Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Methodists

    It reminded me of the discussion in this thread about apologising for actions committed either in the history of your country or by your ancestors. I thought this was an interesting parallel.
  2. Cyan Guest

    Wow, these so-called savages are far more civilised than most nowadays. After all it took only about 5 centuries to the catholic church to apologise for the inquisition...

    Si vis pace, para bellum
  3. Maljonic Administrator

    There's no point arguing about who ate who after all this time I guess.
  4. Mithras-Kosmokrator New Member

    Reminds me of an extract in 'And Now All This' (the follow up to '1066 And All That'). From their section on the 'Theory and Practice of Polar Exploration':

    "Choose your companions carefully, you may have to eat them...Begin with the smallest and work upwards towards yourself. Be sure to leave yourself till last."

    But on a more serious note (heaven forbid!) it's stupid - we can't go apologising for things we haven't done, let alone things we weren't even alive to have done.
  5. Maljonic Administrator

    Of course we can, parents do it all the time.
  6. Stercus Stercus New Member

  7. Mithras-Kosmokrator New Member

    Hardly the same.
  8. Maljonic Administrator

    Well okay then, we've sort of discussed this before when the British government was apologising for slavery. I said I think it's all right if it makes people feel better, and I think the same with this.
  9. chrisjordan New Member

    Yeah, it is the same thing, and I realise that any debate here would be identical to the slavery thread. To be honest the article only caught my eye because of the deadpan sort of way that I read the subject of the headline - it came across as, ' we're sort know, sorry that we ate those people'. Which amused me because it seemed so random. And I guess that kind of thing will continue to amuse me until I'm the one being eaten.

    Then I actually read the article and thought the slavery-issue parallel was worth commenting on too. The parent comment is true, but I don't really see how it figures in to the sense that MK was talking about (or what was already discussed in the other thread). As a parent, you really are responsible for your child because you have a direct influence on their actions. You can't really say the same about your ancestors.
  10. Maljonic Administrator

    I know that what children do is the parents' responsibility most of the time, but I meant that apologising for something our children have done is an example of apologising for something someone else has done.

    There's other examples I guess, like a CEO of a company apologising for something a factory floor worker did to make the place burn down.
  11. chrisjordan New Member

    No doubt there's loads of examples along those lines. One example a bit closer to the slavery and cannibal issues might even be a government apologising for the actions of its citizens in the present day (stuff that occurred while that government was in power and that they could have done something about).

    I guess in all the examples it just depends whether or not it's really possible to hold these people accountable.
  12. Roman_K New Member

    I've been giving this matter some thought after the slavery debate. I now see no problem with such an apology, because I think that if you see yourself as part of the same collective group as your ancestors did, you can and should apologize for their actions as a representetive of that collective. Of the tribe, or the nation-state. But only as a representative of the group, not as an individual.
  13. Rincewind Number One Doorman

    The problem with that is how you define being part of the same collective group. England from the time of slavery is a dramatically different collective group that it is today. We are connected to it via a historical link.

    I think you should only apologise for something if you at some point activitly agreed with the groups actions.

    There is an air of 'sins of the father' about it. Having said that I can see the point of it in some cases. It is the goverment/individual sense of it that makes things strange. I don't like the idea apologising for something on my behalf. But it's cool if they are doing in general way.

    I suppose it never really matters. There is no harm in aapologising, even if you ever really done anything wrong.
  14. Roman_K New Member

    Being part of a group does not necessarily mean agreeing with everything it does. In fact, sometimes doing the exact opposite of what is expected of you is better for the group. Disagreeing with the acts of your ancestors, yet accepting them as a part of your past, means you have a better shot at shaping the future. It's not a matter of individual guilt, or the sins of the fathers becoming the curse of the sons. What it is, is acceptance. It is saying "This is what we were *then*, an this is what we are now. We have changed."

    But there *are* cases when an apology is bad. Such as when you're asked to apologize for hurting someone's fist with your face.
  15. mowgli New Member

    ::Swoops down to pick on semantics::

    I think, in this case, it's not a case of "I was somehow responsible for what my ancestors did, and therefore I'm sorry", but instead a "I acknowledge that what my ancestors did was wrong - I feel the victim's pain - I will work to fix whatever problems arose as a legacy and I will do my best to keep it from happening again"
  16. Roman_K New Member

    That's a good way of putting it, Mowgli. :)
  17. mowgli New Member

    ::takes a bow:: :smile:
  18. chrisjordan New Member

    Well, it is very hard not to eat people.

    I think as well as semantics, it might be the definitions of the words themselves. Maybe it was slightly inaccurate for the Telegraph to use the word 'apologises'. The present-day members of the tribe might be acknowledging what their ancestors did and expressing regret for it, but not all expressions of regret count as an apology. To me, an apology would be on somebody's behalf if not their own, which means that they are taking responsibility for it, not just acknowledging it.

    So basically, I agree that there's nothing wrong with the tribe or the country acknowledging that something happened and expressing regret in a general sense as a way to show that they don't abide by such things now. But I think that apologising for it is something else, and in these cases something I personally don't see the sense in. The argument that an apology might make people feel better is fine up to a point, but due acknowledgement from a modern representative that a country or tribe will be steering clear of cannibalism or slavery in the future should be enough, and if people start feeling that there ought to be an apology from someone who's not really responsible, and start to expect or demand it of these descendants (or present-day prime ministers or monarchs or whatever), then I think there's something wrong.
  19. mowgli New Member

    You spit that missionary out RIGHT NOW, young man!

    :)goes to hell for insensitivity:)

    Yeah, English needs a word for "acknowledging/regretting/hoping it won't happen again", other than "apologizing" :tongue:. It's the same as when someone tells you of something bad that happens to them, and you tell them "I'm sorry", and they reply with "Why? It's not your fault!".
  20. chrisjordan New Member

    'My died! I don't know what I'm going to do with my life.'

    'Oh Bob, I sincerely acknowledge and regret in a general sort of way this event! Here, have a lollipop.'

    We have an apology epidemic here in England. People say 'sorry' when other people walk into them just as often as when they walk into other people. It's like an automatic reaction.

    (Not that I want to give the impression that we're a nation of clumsy, bumbling fools or anything.)
  21. mowgli New Member

    I've apologized to trees, walls, trash cans etc. after walking into them. It's a reflex!

    Granted, if a tree or a wall had walked into me, I would totally expect an apology. I mean, at that point... why not?

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