I remember the one and only time my big brother ever apologized to me.
And that was 45 years ago.
I had taken a wrong turn out of Washington, D.C. early on a Monday morning. And thereby I was nearly an hour late in getting the car back to our Pennsylvania farm.
This was long before cell phones. And my older, petulant brother, incensed as ever by the arbitrary time he had commanded for me to return — so he could take the old VW we shared up to Boston — was simply stretching at the seams of his ill temper and other social maladjustments.
Because he could – being the studious good son and all. And soon he co-opted my mother into the brow-beating.
And all I could think was: Whoa! I’m getting a real shit kicking. And here I had tried to do everything right… or at least something right this time. But, as usual, when you have a 50-50 chance of doing ‘something right’ you have a 90 percent chance of it turning out to be ‘something wrong’.
I’m sure if my father had been front and center at the time he would have delivered a few backhands and forehands that were never destined for tennis.
Hmm… some days even the sun doesn’t shed enough light on these dark matters.
But, about as hour later, as I was staring out from upon a kitchen stool trying to sort out my tomorrows, the house phone rang. It was duh-brother. Today’s renowned heart doc discovering he too had a heart.
He was calling to actually apologize for the way he had acted. Say he was ‘sorry.’ I don’t remember all his words. It sort of was a choke-me-up-moment – seeing that he and I had always settled our differences in wrasslin’ and punching matches.
I think that all I replied to him over the phone was: “Don’t worry about it.”
But nearly 45 years later I still summon the moment. It still resonates. It makes me smile. And even laugh. Indeed it was a benchmark. Boys maturing into men. Heading in their own directions. Trying to figure out why the last two decades each of us had been the way we were.
It was merely an apology. An ‘I’m sorry’ moment. A ‘my bad.’ But it was obviously impactful.
Hey, to make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.
I don’t know exactly why I recently recalled this memory during one of my mental burps the other day. Perhaps it was because it was my brother’s birthday. And I sent him a text that read: ‘Just because you’re ‘old’ doesn’t mean you still won’t do stupid stuff – just slower.’
Or, perhaps it was because I am mentally farting a lot to myself these days — whether I am alone or in a crowded room. I am offended – hell I am outraged — by all this angst ongoing among Black Lives Matter and the cops. All this hateful cop ideology. Anti-police rhetoric that has turned out hateful things.
And, on the other side there is that handful of belligerent rogue cops – whose duty it is “to serve and protect” — making ridiculous stops that end up ticketing people for little more than being black while driving.
And I am screaming because there seems to be a simple recourse to resolving much of this stooopeeedity. Just as with my brother it comes down to the ability to offer a sincere apology. On both sides. To extend an open hand. And I don’t mean apologizing when forced to by a parent or the court. But earnestly. And honestly.
However, to most people that must be an abomination. It seems like no one wants to offer a g-d damn apology for anything! For many, if not most, people that seems to be repugnant. As if humility is a sign of weakness instead of strength and confidence. As if the age old definition of inanity must persist – that is to persevere in doing the same bloody stupid things the same way over and over while hoping for different results.
Look any man can make a mistake. But only an idiot persists in his errors. Only an idiot thinks he is always right.
And we don’t seem to comprehend that a man finally goes postal NOT because of feeling offended just one time, but for the accumulation of many little nicks and paper cuts to his psyche that finally just add up to that one Big Bang.
But of course!
Hells-bells, folks. I am not taking sides here. I have been mistreated by thugs as well as by those guys in uniforms, or in suits carrying attaché cases. And naturally I’ve made more than my share of mistakes. Actually I’ll be the second to admit it — after all my exes.
The least I can say is that my mistakes made me more memorable. That is to say they were honest mistakes. And if I was wrong, I duly apologized.
But that’s all history. And I don’t want to focus on what went wrong, but what we can do to make things right. How do we move forward finding the answer to yet another fine mess we find ourselves in.
Because poking each other in the eye is just making it more difficult to see the problem. And I’m not talking merely about what is right or wrong. But what is sense and nonsense.
Such as taunting policemen – such as at the recent Democratic Convention in Philadelphia – with donuts hung on fishing lines. This is utter nonsense. Just as a policeman shooting someone already on the ground. Or ambushing and shooting policemen. This is not only nonsense, but abhorrent murder. (Unless, of course, it involves one of my exes).
But this stuff is being committed by the lowest common denominator on both sides. People who swim in the shallow end of the gene pool. People looking to take offense too easily — and by their own inept choice — at most anything. People not only lacking an evolved sense of humor, but also lacking an evolved mind too primitive to forgive.
The only thing that can be done with them is exile on a deserted island… and let them sort it out. Any way they want. And what inevitably will be decided is not who is right, but who is left.
After all, the point in punishing failure – whether moral or simple ineptitude — is to correct mistakes before they cost you the war.
And we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into another uncivil war.
And especially because all we need is an attitude adjustment.
It really is that simple. Even for dimwits.
The fact is: Attitude is everything. A weakness in attitude becomes a weakness in character. It’s that little thing that can make a big difference. We can alter our lives by altering our attitudes and gratitude. For every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than our current situation.
In case you don’t already know this, allow me to remind you: Our attitude towards others determine their attitude towards us. In other words: People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. In fact, our civilization is not only a method for living; it is an attitude of equal respect for all men.
As I told my older brother-duh-heart doc once (or maybe I didn’t and had too much bourbon): You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you… and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.
Hmm… Sounds a tad too profound for me. Perhaps what I really told him is that morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.
Yep, that sounds more like it.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…