It Doesn’t Matter Why

We make excuses all the time. “Things have been a little hectic.” “You didn’t seem to be interested in…” “The dog…”

Having relied upon excuses our entire lives, we’ve come to expect them in return, creating a maelstrom of self-dismissive denial that lubricates our social discourse. What’s more, we spend an inordinate amount of time demanding excuse in the form of its cousin, the apology. Despite an abundant supply of apologies from politicians, celebrities, athletes, clergymen and so forth, supply can barely keep up demand. It’s a seller’s market. This leads certain cynics to suspect some self-service is going on, subverting the forgiveness process to which folks from Maimonides to Dr. Laura have ascribed basically the same four steps: recognition, revelation, regret, and reform.

But then certain other cynics (and I’m not apologizing for being one), suspect that it’s a little too easy to blame poor behavior on celebrity. We are all motivated to make our lives a little easier. Beyond mere scale, is there an essential difference between Will Smith’s motivation and our own?

Does celebrity subvert the process of apology or does celebrity merely expose apology for what it is? One of my characters in Slojo’s Reality, Lieutenant Wilson, summarizes apologies this way:

By then they had found his ID, but were still far from apologetic, which was fine with Wilson. As far as he was concerned, all apologies amounted to the same thing—I’m sorry, but that’s the way it’s going to be.

No fourth step. No reform. Instead, a bundle of quick excuses. “I didn’t know…” “That’s not who I am.” On and on it goes, until I find this meme growing with me:

It doesn’t matter why.

It doesn’t matter why you didn’t call me for six months. It doesn’t matter why you didn’t invite me. It doesn’t matter why you can’t replace your piece of crap product. It doesn’t matter why you hurt me. It doesn’t matter why you’re sorry. It just leaves me in the same place.

Spare me the excuses. What are you going to do about it?

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