Monday, February 6, 2017

"Apologies, Abuse and Dealing with the Past"

Apologies, Abuses and Dealing with the Past

Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

February 6, 2017


                “Apologies, Abuses and Dealing with the Past” is the title of a “project” at .  I am grateful for having been invited to participate in the international conversation taking place there, where the focus has become focused on the importance to some victims of offenders’ unconditionally saying they’re sorry, particularly to victims of crime, in doing “restorative justice”; while for others among us, what someone does to respond to one’s victims is more reliable than “saying you’re sorry,” i.e., actions speak louder than words.  I especially enjoy learning from stories others have learned from.

                At the moment, I’ll use this blog post to offer the next thought I’m having about how important straight-out apologies are to some of us.  I happen to be among those who believe that there are many ways of showing honest regret and willingness to try making amends, what I call “responsiveness” to, or empathy with, the pain, fear and anger they have caused.  I infer responsiveness as a pragmatist; I trust outcomes, victim/offender agreements included.  As someone who has learned readily to say “I’m sorry” to others’ loss, fear or harm regardless of whether it’s about something I did, I’m well aware of how easily, it’s nice to hear apologies, but that doesn’t any assumption of responsibility for the consequences of the harm they themselves have done…practically speaking.  I’m making a pragmatic appeal to others not to require out-and-out, unconditional apologies.

                I know that from those of us whose focus is on criminal justice, to international relations, to all kinds of approaches to mediation and reconciliation, among those who may read this blog post, I’m writing to encourage you to do as I did, and join the conversation.  Love and peace, hal