In the play A Thousand Clowns, by Herb Gardner, a character named Murray discovers that he can offer a simple apology to almost anyone—even a complete stranger—and he or she will forgive him. He stands on the corner of 51st and Lexington in New York City one day, telling those who walk by him, “I’m sorry,” and in almost every instance, he’s forgiven on the spot. “That’s the most you can expect from life,” he muses, “a really good apology for all the things you won’t get.”
I hope that’s not true. I wonder, though, what would have happened if Murray had stood on the street corner telling passers-by that he forgave them. The responses probably wouldn’t have been so warm; some might have brought on downright hostility. Though most of us can readily imagine that we’re owed an apology for something (and perhaps lots of somethings), admitting that we’ve done anything that requires forgiveness comes less easily.