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Thoughtless Remarks Need a Sincere Apology


Several years ago a very popular comedian made some thoughtless remarks in public and was called out for his words.   I was very struck by what a fine apology he made because he not only said he was sorry that the words just popped out when he was not thinking, but that because the words had just popped out he definitely had some serious thinking to do and some feelings inside  to understand.

This fellow’s thoughtless blunder became a life lesson and a teachable moment.  It could be that he just did not want to do such a thing in public again but that is not of our concern, rather it is about the fact that he learned from his mistake and he took the time to acknowledge that words can hurt and inflame and that was not a concept he wanted to be associated with and he was taking action to correct his words.

I think the USA has reached a point where we need to become thoughtful again and recognize our teachable moments and teach them.   We need some more people standing up and publicly making sincere apologies for unthinkable words that have popped out.  Then we need the follow up action of seeing people doing the work to understand why those inflammables just popped out.  We need to collectively show that we are able to respond in a humane and dignified fashion – with intelligence.

In some of our public schools – many actually – 80% of a teacher’s day is made up of discipline issues. They are caught up in teaching self-control.   Children act out from what they experience and know, so this tells me there is very little self-control being experienced or taught in homes.

We need to give up on excuses and blame too.   Our media, especially the news, is fear based and we need to cut it off at the source and not encourage this rhetoric with public permission.   We need to stop letting the mentally troubled in our society do our dirty work.    It only feels safe in the moment.

So I offer up my most sincere apology to the Congresswoman and her staff members who were attacked this past weekend for not doing my part.   I was busy thinking why would anyone want to be a public official in this day and age?  And not making life a teachable moment.

I am sending thank you letters to my congressional and legislative representatives and asking them how I can learn from their work so I will be enabled to respond.

Although I attempted to teach each person I talked with in my state the difference between a BOND measure and a tax – I did not do it well enough. I cheated our public school population.  I can see that our young people truly do not know how to think and problem-solve and that civic understanding is lacking; this behavior seems to be encouraged. Instead I stay quiet and think “you need to pay me” for the work I do so well and know how to do, and you say that I am too old or out of date, have the wrong paperwork, and I am not enough of an entertainer.  I lick my wounds and draw back from being attacked.

I prayed daily during the election that the “mentally ill” would not kill our Senator and succeed in losing their self-control, and was so happy the state police were able to identify and contain each one.  What does this say about our system?  It says to me that the we have lost our self-control as individuals and as a nation and that the public which is enthralled with the Entertainers and Fear Warriors who are inflaming this fear need to hear some sincere out loud apologies and witness some follow up actions and learned behaviors.    We need a course correction.

This shooting was a prime notification that we have hit bottom and we need to start climbing out – immediately.

We need to hear some real apologies, and we need some honest reality – right now.  We need to stop sacrificing our children and their education – we need to ask what they are really learning and figure out what actions they will be taking.  We need to be afraid of the fear-mongers…

How do you think a course correction comes about? Do you think this shooting was a big enough event to achieve some course corrections?  What is needed to begin the process?  Do you just turn off the voices of fear?   What action do you need to be taking?  Have you heard any real and honest apologies?

Related Reading:
Discussing Fear
How we Make Decisions and Changes

Looking forward to your spirited comments – What do you think?

37 Responses to “Thoughtless Remarks Need a Sincere Apology”

  1. Mike Goad Says:

    I think that there may be some things may change as a result of this and some political people’s course in life will be altered.

    However, while there are political issues that do need to be addressed, that’s not what this incident is about for me.

    Too little attention, I think, is being paid to the fact that the monster who committed this outrage was a very troubled and mentally unstable young man. That he was not helped is a problem. That he was not identified as potentially dangerous is a problem. That he was able to legally buy weapons is a problem.

    The politics of this, for me, is “how do we identify and treat mentally unstable people who are potentially dangerous to themselves and others and do it within the bounds of the civil rights of individuals?”
    .-= Mike Goad´s last blog ..Whether it’s weather–or “Calamities of Nature” =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I think the mental health issues are great in this circumstance as in last November’s election 19 folks who attempted to kill our Senator while she campaigned were detained – those are the ones we knew about.

    That does not negate the fact that Rove’s political strategies are working the angle about mental health to work and rile them up – as a counselor we were prepared for the teams of political folks who deliberately fueled the mental health victims to produce more fear. Ms Palin is a natural at it and wow is it lively when she comes to town.

    Now the Lame Duck congress has just taken away more funding for schools, where we could get a start on the ID process started for mental illness because the folks who can pay are just moving to private education – the Pell grants are going away too…If you are born into poverty in this country we are going to work at keeping you there for sure, because we have no work and no real education for you….this is a whole issue

    Counselors and Professionals have to keep their eye and ear to the news and the shock jocks to attempt to keep ahead of the fear folks game plan –

    I have tried to get folks to read Klein’s The Shock Doctrine for years – we are just playing out that game in a slightly different fashion…we are being dramatically manipulated and the mentally ill are providing us the warning

    Think it is what makes the mentally ill so scary to us – there but for the Grace of God go I?

  2. Talon Says:

    I agree with what Mike said … that seems to be the issue for me, as well.

    Patricia Reply:

    We are all very worried about the mentally ill. I feel awful that this fellow was not discovered and helped. We have lots of tools now to identify these folks and very early on too, but there are no funds to do the work and not everyone works for $500 a month and no benefits – like me.

    These are the folks I talk to every morning on my walk.

    But I am here to say that these folks are being used and disrespected. When someone who is undiscovered commits these acts, then it is up to others to call it out

    I just feel as though the basic respect and joy in being human has been lost and I was proud of my President with great care and humility addressing these folks and the divisiveness in his stunning memorial speech yesterday .

  3. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    I’ll join Mike and Talon on this one. I see it more as a gun control issue than anything else. I found it disturbing when they said in the news that one store had refused to sell him ammunition “because of his erratic behavior,” but he was able to obtain ammunition at another store.
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last blog ..Online Friendships Suck =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I am quite sure that all the warning signs were evident but folks were afraid of him and fear makes us do strange things.

    Have you seem the movie Patch Adams?

    I just can not hide through this one as I know and I understand from both sides of the fence.

    Yep it is a gun control issue too. It is a horrendous picture when one can expand it out to it’s greatest parameters. What’s worse is that we did not think it could happen here – because we are so “smart” . We don’t even need to pay for innovation, design, and problem – solving anymore we just hire the math and science folks from India and China…

  4. Patricia Says:

    The Colbert Report
    “Sarah Palin knows angry speech isn’t a call to violence. Unless it’s angry speech directed at Sarah Palin in which case it is a call to violence.” – Stephen Colbert http://bit.ly/hC2OxI

  5. Jannie Funster Says:

    I think we should wait for the full results of any shooting investigation before we jump to conclusions that we all understand what drove an individual to do what he did. It is so easy to say one group or one ideology was responsible for the shooting when in fact that may not be the truth.

    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Laguna Gloria- Austin Texas =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I am talking about a huge system of rhetoric which started out with huge success during the Bush Senior presidential election process and the smear begun against the War Veteran from Georgia – this is not something new and I am not specifically talking about Sarah Palin, who I just believe is absolutely brilliant at this crazy creating rhetoric because she is so power hungry and manipulative.

    I am saying that we need to look at reality and what this horrible communication style is doing to our country, before the citizen’s truly have no voice at all. I am talking about Dr. Lakoff’s work and the huge think tanks that are promoting this awful banter and destructive behavior.

    At least 19 known folks were restrained during the midterm elections in our state – these are the folks we know about – because a woman, tea party spokes person, said they only way we would be free from tyranny in our state is if our sitting Senator was dead. And she screamed that for months….

    I went to a meeting about the 150 promoter’s who arrived in our state the week before the election to keep the negative rhetoric going and power it up and mediators met with these people to ask them not to incite and to not do this work – all but one was too mercenary.

    I am talking about growing up and really understanding history and democracy because none of it works if the citizens are just ignorant and not understanding their part.

    I do not see any of my friend taking their children out of private schools and putting them in public schools…or fund-raising for public schools….I am there nearly everyday…one of my children is there everyday and we see how excited the children are and how they speak and what their parents tell them and what they hear on the news….

    Kindergartners are telling me the Congresswoman should die because she is a Communist. A Communist is someone bad and will take away food and school.

    If I were to blame anyone I would blame the numbed down dumbed down American Public, but blame serves no one and stops action altogether and then we will just need to build more security walls and prisons. Or we could just go back to the system of neighbor killing each other – we have way too many people….

    Maybe we should be asking why so many folks are busy covering for this woman and her AXX? She is the least of my worries, as a matter of fact she is like an early warning devise of where hate will strike next.
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..FREEDOM a novel Jonathan Franzen =-.

  6. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Curtailing our freedoms – whether 1st, 2nd Amendment or Bill of Rights or any whatsoever – because there’s the possibility of someone abusing them is a very slippery slope akin to what transpired after the Reichstag fire. Politicizing this situation as some have (to the point of even fundraising off it!) to advance an ideological agenda is insidiously inappropriate. Viewing situations such as these through an overlay that assumes a political fix is the only appropriate response is inappropriate as well. Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard said it very well: “Sometimes a crazy guy is just a crazy guy. And sometimes a tragedy is just a tragedy.”

    Patricia Reply:

    We have already curtailed our freedoms

    It is all just rhetoric and words.

    I believe that every person does the very best they are able to do with the information they have available to them – I wrote this piece before any of these conversation happened…I do not have TV and I do not listen to the news.

    I am a horrible person, because I have chosen not to speak out for the last 2 years – I have been just lying and calming myself down and smoothing the waters because I felt like I needed to be paid for my efforts with the vets and children, men, women who I see at the worst moments of their lives, and I KNOW BETTER….
    I know the games
    I know the boards of directors
    I know the words
    I know the politics
    I know the think tanks
    I know the manipulation
    I know the suffering first hand

    I am the problem and I am not acting – I am not doing the right thing because I should be getting paid because I will not prescribe drugs to children to calm them down so they can be controlled – no I give them good food and listen

    I don’t get any health care…so that should be a sign and I need to get off this computer and stop paying for it and the phone – stop enabling the crazy words and the bling and ching of money and just get back on the streets with my real peeps.

    And Steve Hayes Never is a crazy guy just a crazy guy. And NEVER a tragedy is just a tragedy….NEVER

  7. Patricia Says:

    Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
    ?”By being and living compassion, you invite and encourage others, just by your example, to choose to do the same.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

  8. Patricia Says:

    Oh my Goodness,
    I have just watched FOX news, MSNBC, NBC, Palin’s speech, CNN, President Obama’s speech from the memorial service and I now know my commenters are talking from the talking points of the news program they are listening to…

    I APOLOGIZE I DID NOT KNOW THAT I WAS TALKING TO YOUR THINKING RESPONSES to various news casts that I knew nothing about……

    I wrote this piece Sunday night right after I heard about the shooting, and I came up with this post on my own….this is my own thinking HA HA you guys really fooled me.

    Jon Steward was asking most of the same questions I was asking when he interviewed the former Gov. of Minnesota last night – which I also watched tonight….

    You all made me thrilled I do not watch the news any more and I am very proud of myself for writing this piece Thank you

    Mike Goad Reply:

    I have watched very little of what you are referring to and, what I did watch, I didn’t agree with. I watch very little TV and have watched even less than that in recent weeks.

    I don’t write or talk from other people’s talking points.

    I do agree that there is a huge issue with the political rhetoric in this country. I agree that the rhetoric stirs people up and that there are unstable people that will do violent things they might not otherwise do because of it.

    The loud talking heads on the TV talk shows and the hollering talk radio personalities only add to the volume of the hysteria.

    I agree that, perhaps, a course correction is needed.

    I just don’t think that the Tuscon incident is about the political rhetoric. Even though it is horrific and even though the main target was a politician, I don’t think this is an incident that will bring about lasting change in the political rhetoric and over-the-top public commentary.

    At the end of your post, you asked a number of questions. The only one I really had an answer or opinion on was, “Do you think this shooting was a big enough event to achieve some course corrections?”

    If the shooting had been committed by a monster like Timothy McVeigh, then my answer would be that it very well should be.

    However, the monster Jared Loughner is no Timothy McVeigh.

    McVeigh was cold, calculating, and very stable, mentally. He just had crazy ideas and ideals.

    However, Jared Loughner was not stable. I’d be surprised if he ever stands trial.

    I just don’t think that Jared’s actions will have a lasting impact of any type on the political rhetoric and certainly not any course correction.

    That’s my opinion on that one question, “Do you think this shooting was a big enough event to achieve some course corrections?”
    .-= Mike Goad´s last blog ..If you wave- you may be held liable–don’t do it! =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your further comments and good words – I think that is the question I am most interested in and I think you are correct that this is not going to be such a big enough incident for a course correction…especially with the inflammatory rhetoric – this makes me very sad

    It was pouring rain this morning on my walk – so many of the homeless were taking refuge elsewhere, but they are very agitated and they know more that I do – they are worried about the very mentally ill among them and trying to get help for them.

    This was a big enough incident to get folks restless and worried.

  9. "Arizona" Lilland Says:

    Greetings from the “epicenter of divisiverness”, “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry,” “the place of anomalies and tamales.” As a snowbird who became a resident, this is also the land of some really Wonderful liberal, compassionate people. I meet them every day in my Democratic Party activities. I describe my reaction to the deaths in Tucson as shots fired at every Democrat in the state, no, in the nation. And I believe it would not have happened had President Obama not invited Janet Napolitano to resign as governor and move to Washington D.C. !!

    patricia Reply:

    Thank you Kay,
    I needed to hear from you and your thoughts. I miss our good discussions – no one here seems to be discussing anything at all – they are just rattling off the talking heads.

    I still do not think most people understand the think tanks and the big “guns” pointed at them by these strategists “I just don’t get involved” Well our children are paying the price big time.

    Maybe it is a good think my health ins. is canceled so I will not have to be around to see all the changes – It makes me think I have some very amazing kids!

  10. "Arizona" Lilland Says:

    P.S. oops, forgot to answer the question–will this event cause a big change?
    No, single events rarely cause big changes. A few are, yes, straws that break the camel’s back.

    patricia Reply:

    And this was a politician/public figure and the number of victims was big – all the family suicides locally will certainly not make a difference…

    Thanks for your good words

  11. suzen Says:

    Hi Patricia! Interesting post and sure a lot of interesting comments! Gets a little fired up – politically. All the talking heads are having a hay-day with this – the blame game ad nauseum. I pray for Gabby and all those with loss and injuries.

    Patricia Reply:

    There are so many course corrections needed right now – just praying feels like moving backwards to me.

    I am so frustrated

    I was so happy my parents died before all this negative stuff arrived here There dreams for education and this country are certainly not happening – Maybe that makes me most sad and that my children do not feel that it is worthwhile to get married and even think about having children, while so many ugly people just keep producing so many uncared for beings.

    I just can not make sense of it any more.

  12. J.D. Meier Says:

    Teachable moments and leadership opportunities are great opportunities to stand strong when tested, find a way forward, or to reshape our path in a more compelling way.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Go for the Epic Win =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I just think this is a moment for stopping the noise and truly starting to teach and change behaviors. Enough!

    I just discovered this weekend that Jon Stewart is embracing this thought too surrounding this event – and he can be very funny with his teaching tools

  13. Arts Web Show Says:

    Apologies are only meaningful if action is taken up after.
    But in the public it seems like too many people say sorry then forget everything.
    Doesn’t do much for us having faith in them
    .-= Arts Web Show´s last blog ..Funny fight scene- a comedic slant of corny action movies =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Sorry can be such an empty word, you are absolutely correct.

    Thank you for your good comments and dropping by. I will be over for a chuckle or two in a few!

  14. Galen Pearl Says:

    Wow, what a powerful post followed by powerful comments/responses. I might need to read through all this a couple of times to digest it all. One thing that struck me was the different perspectives people have. This is a rhetoric issue. This is an apology issue. This is a mental health issue. This is a media issue. This is a gun control issue. And more. I am looking for a theme among all these issues. Is there “THE” issue or connected issues or simply fragmented issues? I don’t know, but I think this is an important question because it affects how we look at the solution.

    Sometimes I feel like Ken Kesey who, when asked what he was doing to make the world a better place, replied, “This year I’m growing asparagus.” I get overwhelmed and want to retreat to my little corner and sit by the creek or something.

    Thank you for sparking this discussion. It is giving all of us a lot to think about.
    .-= Galen Pearl´s last blog ..Happiness Reminders =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I think the main theme is that this is a dynamic call to change particularly our methods of communications – it is fragmented because I think I am at the place where I am listing all the big things that are not functioning well right now in the realm of communications – and that there is a lesson here and opportunity for many to join in the discussion and to bring about some very dynamic opportunities and resolutions.

    The first and biggest step in change is to STOP ( cold turkey-stop)

    Have you read David Korten’s Anatomy of a New Economy? He very simply makes a case for what could be happening right in our very neighborhoods if we would just realize the reality of what is going on at this point in time – ( book on my Recommended Reading list page – and I outlined it on a number of posts in 2009) Because he so simply and clearly spells things out it is a great read.

    Thank you for thinking this was a great discussion and that it made you think…..as an out of work ethics teacher that made my heart sing :)

  15. Deborah Says:

    I admire your words Patricia though I am not in the USA. I hear such news with sadness knowing that it is generally believed that what happens in the USA one day can happen here the next.
    Our society is one that does not carry guns – our police force remain largely unarmed yet we all know that guns can be obtained and the gun laws are forever being reviewed as another shooting hits the headlines.
    ‘Normal people’ tend not to turn to crime and mindless killing but sometimes the most apparently normal person can flip – as in the case of Peter Squires, a taxi driver in Cumbria who went on a killing spree last year. One can only assume that there is work to be done at the most basic level, educating ourselves to recognise in others the traits that without help may become a problem.
    No answers – but lots of thinking to do!
    .-= Deborah´s last blog ..Dress this way… =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I understand that this might just be someone with a Mental Health issue – standing or transitional, but that does not deter me in thinking that all this negative, negative word and idea flinging is not getting us any where. This really horrendous stuff started with the first President Bush campaigns and has been groomed and growing with each passing year, even with whole think tanks dedicated to it’s efforts, that it is time to say STOP….

    The book Ecotopia which I have reviewed and is truly 30 years old, documents the difference in societies which worship manipulated power and one that focuses on individual respect and dignity – even for the earth. It is amazing how all the negative side of this story is the loudest and truest story line – While the respectful community is mostly underground and being hounded as treehuggers etc.

    I am just overwhelmed by my own state accepting the National Education (No Child Left Behind) plan which has moved our State’s public education system from the top 10 in the Nation to 47th (out of 50) Then so many folks believe what they hear on TV and voted down even more funds for our own local schools. If folks truly understood that they were cutting off their nose to spite their face – this time it is cutting off the children to spite their own future. The race has begun to get every middle class child into private schools now…and every public school kid on medications to control behaviors…
    The Mentally Ill and our children are crying out for help…

    No answers, lots of thinking, and folks need to use this as a wake up call and get learning what is really behind this the undercurrent

    The best starting point is to STOP.

  16. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. this is a brave post, but one that needs to be made. My thoughts were that the three things we teach children re money ..

    1) save (for your first bike),

    2) spend a little on eg sweets if that’s what is desired, a soft drink ..

    3) .. then the third which to my knowledge is not common – but which in this day and age could make a huge difference is .. share – go and buy something for someone else .. make their day .. take the time to buy, the time to wrap, the time to deliver .. and the time to take time out with them .. a special time ..

    Compassion, care and concern would all be available and the people of today but I hope the people of tomorrow will understand ..

    So right – thanks for the post .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Guide Books- Queries – Publishers and Authors- Mariana Starke- Baedeker- Murray- Ward &amp Lock- Wainwright late 1700s to mid 1900s =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Compassion is key – and it is an action word.
    A nurses aide just called me to tell me that I am going to be designated “non compliant” by my Physician’s Office, which will mean I will not get health insurance at any price or age. I had to make a stink on the phone so that she would worry and when my Dr. heard about this from the finance office She jumped into action.

    The reason for all this: I shopped around and did my Lab work at a small local Lab which is a consortium. If I had gone through the hospital’s lab it would have cost me $800…the smaller lab charged me $200.

    This made the computer say: I was non compliant in getting my lab work completed, whereas as my Dr. said I was being a good consumer and responsible to my own medical needs…but she would not have known where I was and what was happening if I had not kept working on the problem for 3 days…thank God the aide had to call me to notify me.

    Folks read your blog and are amazed at how so many ideas and “things” connect and intersect. We were taught the skills, but these next generations are not being taught to think, just get their surface education from TV and INTERNET…which if they do not know how to use the internet to gain information – they just get pick the easiest or loudest.

    Someone needs to be talking about this – without understanding history are we not doomed to repeat it? And now with history being made at such a fast pace – we need to be more response abled

    The Mentally Ill, the Disabled, the children need a voice NOW. And the noisy controlling media is drowning them out – Wall Street is back to making billions in phantom money

    It can happen to any of us.

    I have a sore throat and I am not even talking…just typing away hoping to be heard….I will say I have had the highest number of readers that last 2 weeks in the history of my blog.

    Thanks for your good words – they mean a great deal to me

  17. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. gosh things or life – are difficult all round .. I just hope all will be well .. I have enough energy for me and what I do at the moment .. but little more to help others .. wish, wish that I could because I would.

    Thinking of you .. love Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Guide Books- Queries – Publishers and Authors- Mariana Starke- Baedeker- Murray- Ward &amp Lock- Wainwright late 1700s to mid 1900s =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Hilary,
    I will be over to read your blog post next…have a dancing puppy and sunshine at the moment = walk time!

    Wish the sore throat would vamoose

    I think some of this is coming at me because I am figuring out what to do next and the job turn downs are coming in – will have to build something myself

    You have a huge amount on your plate – do just what you need and want to do – been there and that is how I got this adrenal fatigue syndrome…no fun

    Take care

  18. farouk Says:

    that’s quite a deep post, thank you for writing it

    Patricia Reply:

    You are welcome and thank you for reading it. It is from my heart and my frustration

  19. Susie Says:


    Thanks for bringing this topic to the forefront. Each of us in our own lives engages, hears, or spurs on rhetoric that is very harmful to ourselves and others. It’s a continuum of violence. Each and every day, we get to decide how we will participate and what we will do to counteract it.

    Just as you mention that teachers spend a huge part of their school days with discipline, all of 80% of workplace difficulties is in relationships. It tells a powerful story. My blog, http://www.wiseatwork.net, is focused on human wholeness and the workplace. Like you, I am convinced that we need to gently and firmly speak out about what is good and right based on years and years of ancient teachings and experiences.

    Goodness to you.

    patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your great comments Susie, I did pull this one from the heart and then added compassion in the next with looking at Dr. M Rosenberg’s work with compassionate communications, which I have been practicing for about 10 years – what a difference it makes.

    I will come over and check out your site asap. (Well to be honest I have a post to edit and then I get to read!)

    Human wholeness, vital

    I am doing a book review for Monday the 24th and the material in it just adds tremendously to this discussion from a whole other angle

    Welcome and thank you so much for your valuable words.
    Goodness to you also