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Andrew Breitbart was, among other things, a compulsive tweeter. Just before his untimely death, nearly a year ago, he tweeted Apologize for WHAT?. This was in conversation with somebody, but as it was his penultimate tweet, and summed up so much of his philosophy, it became a rallying cry for many.

There are many well-known sayings about dealing with "differences of opinion". One of the most common is that "There are two sides to every story." Although usually not stated, the insinuation here is that no one is completely at fault for a disagreement; that both sides are obviously coming from some sort of rational position, but that there is a lack of communication between the sides that cause the conflict. The assumption here is that some sort of mediation can resolve the difference in opinion.

Another saying is "It takes two to tango." This saying insinuates that a disagreement or conflict has come about, and it has only continued to the point that it has because both parties are engaging in behavior to prolong the conflict. Hence, the assumption made is that if (and most often, only if) both parties change their behavior, the conflict can be resolved. This totally negates the very common occurrence where one party is constantly causing annoyance and harm to the other.

When there is an occasion of one party aggrieving the other, and that party finally deciding that they will take a step of an apology, although the apology may be sincere, it is often only for some small portion of said aggrievances, and there is very often the expectation that the other party apologize too. Not only does that fit into the idea of "it takes two to tango" but it leaves the aggressive party feeling some sort of moral equivalency - he is sorry for what he did, but he has also received an apology for the wrongs done unto him, which in his mind, proves that wrongs were done him.

So many of us fall into this trap over and over again. It's not that we shouldn't be generous to others, and, if we are Christian, it isn't that we shouldn't be quick to forgive. However, under the guise of generosity and forgiveness, and "keeping the peace" and "harmony" many of us, when expected to apologize for "our part" in a dispute, want the dispute to be over so badly that, like those tortured with days-long sleeplessness by the KGB, are willing to apologize for anything, including existence, promising to never again transgress in such a manner.

This is no way to live, always afraid of offending others. In the sphere of international relations, it is called a "negative peace". There is no way to walk through this life with any type of moral conviction, without someone having a problem with it. The choice we have is whether we stand strong in what we believe, or do we capitulate in order to "make nice". The specific situation Andrew Breitbart referenced is a little bit different, but "Apologize for WHAT?" is fitting in any case where one has honestly come up against someone whose purpose is to hurt or destroy the other. Sometimes it hurts terribly to keep up this stance, but ultimately, betraying one's self hurts a lot more.

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mituns

September 2013

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