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Mahfood ‘Man up’ to Mistake

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMDevon Dick

Recently, William Mahfood, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, apologised to Derrick Kellier, minister of labour, social security, agriculture and fisheries, for stating that Kellier was acted like a "rogue minister" because of his intention to impose a cess on imported refined sugar which would increase the cost of certain manufactured goods. (see Gleaner, May 6). An apology is not the end of the matter, as the issue is to be settled whether the cess is in the interest of the common good and greater good of the country.

This apology reminds us of the fulsome apology at the second attempt given by A.J. Nicholson, Senate house leader, concerning his 'flexi-rape' comment. Rape of any kind is no joke. It is commendable when persons give apologies which are unequivocal.

However, many persons find it difficult to apologise. On Monday, school founder Nancy Gordeuk of TNT Academy, Georgia, dismissed graduates even before the valedictorian gave his speech. Gordeuk berated the confused audience, calling them "rude" and remarked, "Look who's leaving - all the black people." She apologised and then recanted, stating the statement was not racist.

Why is it that persons find it difficult to apologise? Most people do not like to admit they are wrong. Sometimes there is a concern that giving an apology could be seen as a sign of weakness or a fear that an apology will damage their reputation and that they will suffer a loss of respect. In addition, there is a reluctance to acknowledge incompetence or inappropriate behaviour.

However, we need to realise that no one is perfect, and neither is any organisation - we all make mistakes and fall short of perfection. Things can and will go wrong and, in such circumstances, we should be quick to apologise. We need to take full responsibility for our actions, realising that it has the potential to cause adverse reactions.

An apology is an expression of sorrow, or regret. It is an acknowledgement of a fault, a shortcoming or a failing or missing of a mark.

Unfortunately, persons are more into giving partial apologies. In such circumstances, the person will find a scapegoat, as was the case of Adam blaming Eve, or offer mitigating situations. The classic apology, nowadays, is to say we are sorry if our actions caused offence; not taking responsibility for our actions.



Sometimes people apologise because it is demanded, but external pressure is not a good reason to apologise. An apology ought to be motivated by a desire to do the right thing. Do not apologise to be polite or in response to political, civic or media pressure. An apology that is mandated by superiors and offered under coercion is not real or meaningful. It is just to save face and perhaps one's job and privileges.

It was good that Dr Warren Blake of the Jamaica Invitational Challenge Meet disassociated the organisers from the booing of United States track star Ryan Bailey. Bailey was our guest and should not have been booed in spite of his previous inappropriate action. Warren Weir, Jamaican track star, had already stated that Bailey disrespected track legend Usain Bolt and the sport of track and field by mocking Bolt's signature pose and then adding the cut throat sign. In addition, Bailey's mockery was offensive for its violent connotations and Bailey should apologise, but that does not give us the right to boo him. Two wrongs do not make a right.

The outcome of the apology might include restoration of reputation, reconciliation, or an assurance that a problem has been addressed and settled. We need to encourage fulsome apologies and build up relationships and communities.

• Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@