One of the things that I find immensely frustrating about our new President-Elect is his inability to apologize. The fact that he lacks such a basic societal function should be great cause for concern, yet his supporters don’t seem to mind. Why is that?
Accountability is something we teach to our children, applaud our spouses for, and appreciate in friends, co-workers, and bosses alike. The ability to admit you have made a mistake is not only vital for healthy relationships, but it’s also an important step towards personal evolution and self-growth.
And yes,, there are follow-up steps required for an apology to be truly effective – if we only mutter the words “I’m sorry” but don’t change our behavior afterwards, those words lose their power pretty quickly.
- “I’m sorry I hit you when you took my toy car. Next time you take one of my toys without my permission, I’ll ask you to give it back to me instead.”
- “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. Your friendship is important to me, so I’ll try to be more sensitive to your needs”
- “I’m sorry I ran the red light. Next time I’ll drive more carefully”
In every instance, accepting accountability and weighing the fall-out from our actions (losing a friend, losing a lover, paying a fine, getting fired etc.) help us change our behavior for the better. And that’s why the the “Next time I’ll try to…” part is crucial – it demonstrates just how much your remorse has effected you and helps you set a personal goal to be better.
But we are about to have a president who can’t apologize even when he’s caught red-handed for insulting/offending people. We are about to have a president who blames everyone else for his mistakes. He lashes out at news reporters reporting on facts and shoots vindictive and petty tweets at anyone who offends him. He is vengeful. He is almost exclusively focused on himself and how the world effects him.
“Stupid” is one of the president elect’s favorite words via GIPHY
These are not qualities we would encourage or put up with in our children or our friends/family. They are not qualities we would put up with from a co-worker or boss. They are not qualities we would set down as examples for our neighbors.
And yet… here we are.
And this inability to accept blame, to apologize for insulting/damaging behavior – it has consequences.
I’m seeing a lot of Trump supporters in the news who are unable to separate their own hopes for Trump’s administration from the facts of his behavior thus far. They believed he would drain the swamp, even though he’s since admitted that he was just saying that because the people liked it. They believed he would surround himself with the “best” advisors, and refuse to look closer at the Wall-Street elite and billionaires unfamiliar with or against the very departments he’s tasked them with heading. They believe he will serve this country, although his own life proves that the only person Trump has ever served is himself.
It’s really, really hard to give up on the team you’ve backed. And it may even be too early for many to even consider giving up on Trump, even in light of the mounting evidence of interference from, and probable collusion with Russia, to win this election.
But it’s made harder when the man you have pinned your hopes to can’t even admit the slightest possibility of fallibility himself.
If someone only takes credit for the “great” and “wonderful” things happening around him (sometimes even when they had nothing to do with the “great” thing that happened – like this, and this– and if you’d like to read a little more about it read this) no personal growth is possible. We learn from our mistakes, and we endeavor to be better people because of them. But when someone refuses to see himself as fallible, he resides in an arrested state of ego – a state that only begets more and more damage to those around him
But all the pontificating in the world means nothing to Trump – the man is in his 70’s, a natural salesman, and very set in his ways/world view. The question then isn’t “When will our President-elect grow up?” but rather, “Will the rest of us grow in spite of our new president’s poor examples?”