Saying sorry

Posted at 01/10/2014 6:06 PM

It is so difficult to own up to one’s fault, especially when there are so many excuses one can make. How bad could it get? Would losing face in that instant be worse than losing the trust one has previously enjoyed?

Legally speaking…

We live in a world where everything must fall under one category or another—even when it comes to declaration (or denial) of guilt. Rule 116, Sec 1(c) of the Rules of Court says: When the accused refuses to plead or makes a conditional plea, a plea of not guilty shall be entered for him.

This is not just because “none of the above” is inapplicable. Explains the Federal Register: “The accused has a legal and moral right to enter a plea of not guilty even if he knows he is guilty. This is so because his plea of not guilty amounts to nothing more than a statement that he stands upon his right to cast upon the prosecution the burden of proving his alleged guilt.” -Pleas and Motions, The Federal Register

This is under a system called “accusatorial” or “accusatory,” defined by The Free Dictionary as “criminal procedure in which the prosecutor is distinct from the judge and the trial is conducted in public.” This implies the presumption of innocence of the accused.

Real Life

This may not be the case in everyday life, because we often make assumptions, no matter how baseless they are. Also, if we believe that feelings are never wrong, then no one could question “hurt feelings,” insults or humiliation.

Luckily, however, we can always just “chill,”, keep quiet and stay away or muster enough courage to apologize, especially when we did not mean to insult or hurt another person’s feelings.

Keeping quiet and staying away may be considered the equivalent of refusing to enter a plea, but this could feed the assumption of guilt. “Flight is a sign of guilt”—and perhaps, so is silence.

Saying “I’m sorry” may sometimes be so difficult to say, mainly because we are afraid of rebuke, embarrassment or any other negative response. But conveying genuine sentiments usually works and the apology is accepted. Undeniably an act of humility, saying sorry also shows respect and recognition of the wronged person’s basic rights.

I grew up in a home where “I’m sorry” was seldom verbalized, but was often expressed by a hug or a kiss. Privacy was respected—we never locked doors, but we always knocked before we entered. And though “No” sometimes became “Yes”, it never went the other way around.

Whatever rights were conferred, remained our rights—and anyone who violates any of these must apologize, whether or not his or her attention is called.