All of us have said things or done things in the heat of the moment that we have regretted, whether it be an e mail sent in temper, an offensive gesture, an inappropriate statement or a flash of anger. Thankfully, for the majority, such mistaken actions are undertaken away from the public glare.
Nonetheless, I hope that whenever I have done something that, deliberately or not, has upset someone, then I have had the courtesy to apologise at the earliest opportunity.
For me, making an apology, so long as it is genuine, is a sign of strength not weakness.
And yet, for many people in the public eye, from sports personalities through to politicians, an apology is often only uttered once every other single option has been exhausted.
Two recent cases in point have both involved the sensitive issue of racism.
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez used a most inappropriate and racist word, during a flash of anger, against Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Whatever his defence, the suggestion that the word Suarez used, on more than one occasion, was okay because ‘negro’ is not an offensive word in his native Uruguay is to take us all for fools. Suarez has played in England long enough to know what is and isn’t acceptable language in England. But, more crucially, Suarez used the word in a situation of confrontation and anger. The idea that it was a term of endearment, which has also be claimed, would be laughable if it wasn’t so insulting.
With the imposition of an eight game ban, and not insignificant pressure from the media, Suarez has, finally, issued an apology of sorts this week. I guess that had he done so immediately following the game, he would have received a much fairer press, and a far lesser ban.
Yesterday, through the medium of Twitter, Labour MP Diane Abbott made a racist comment against white people. Once nobbled, her initial reaction was to claim her comment had been ‘taken out of context’. Several hours and a dressing down from her party leader later, Abbott issued an apology. Again, one has to ask, why the prevarication?
I don’t know if Luis Suarez and Dianne Abbot are racist. I do know that they both exercised poor judgement in these particular situations. Let us hope that they, and indeed all of us, learn the lesson that failure to acknowledge your mistake can often be more damaging than the initial error itself.
Happy New Year to you all. I hope to see you at a Downtown event in the near future.