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Music & the Spoken Word: A good apology

A sincere apology can heal and soften hearts, ease pain and tension and bring people together, Lloyd Newell observes in this week’s ‘Music & the Spoken Word’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.

Here’s a question to think about: When was the last time you sincerely apologized? We all do things that hurt others, even if we don’t mean to. But we don’t always accept responsibility for the wrong we’ve done or try to make things right. That’s what it means to apologize.

A sincere apology can heal and soften hearts. It can ease pain and tension. It can bring people together. Apologizing is not easy, and it shouldn’t be — in fact, an empty, effortless apology can do more harm than good. A real apology requires soul-stretching effort, but the rewards can be immense: personal peace, growth and healed relationships.

Randy Pausch, a well-loved computer science professor, died of cancer in 2008. In a book based on his last lecture before his passing, he wrote: “If you’ve done something wrong in your dealings with another person, it’s as if there’s an infection in your relationship. A good apology is like an antibiotic; a bad apology is like rubbing salt in the wound” (see “The Last Lecture,” by Randy Pausch, 2008, page 161).

Apologizing is far more than just saying the words “I’m sorry.” It includes a willingness to change. That’s part of what makes it so hard to do. But if we don’t apologize — if we don’t acknowledge our mistakes — then we don’t improve. An apology can be the first step to growing as a human being, or, we could say, a human becoming — becoming better and wiser, more compassionate, more sensitive to others.

Years ago, a man lost an election and developed unkind feelings for his opponent. The loss stung, and giving way to resentment and jealousy only made it hurt worse. It took many years, but finally he realized that he needed to escape from this cycle of self-inflicted pain. In other words, he needed to apologize. He wrote a sincere letter asking his former opponent to forgive him for harboring ill feelings for so long. Not only did he lift his own burden, but he also brought an unexpected blessing of gratitude to the recipient of his humble, heartfelt letter.

An apology may not fix or change everything, but it can change us. Life is definitely healthier with the antibiotic of a good apology.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL NewsRadio 1160AM/102.7FM, KSL.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM (Ch. 143),  tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoir and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Time on these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

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