I’ve been watching far too much TV recently and aside from the emotional blackmail contained in day-time advertisements, I’ve started to hone in on turgid reoccurring statements made primarily by public figures. An expression du jour that’s captured my attention is “I am profoundly sorry.”
This statement appears especially popular when something awful has been enacted, deliberately concealed, underplayed or inappropriately joked about. On a number of occasions the person voicing the profound apology is doing so from a position of power; responsibility by association or role. I’ve been immersed in a sea of profound apologies over a very short period of time and I don’t recall ever experiencing anything quite like this before. Atonement has come in many forms. In response to revelations about the tragic Hillsborough disaster. Following unfathomable child abuse by members of the Irish church. Post drink-drive stupidity. On causing cruelty by dumping a cat in a wheelie bin. MP’s expenses scandals, misleading financial advice, jokes made in poor taste during the US election campaigns.
“There are no excuses for what I did, and I am profoundly sorry.”
“I am profoundly sorry that this double injustice has been left uncorrected for so long.”
“I am deeply ashamed and profoundly sorry for our notorious front page headline.”
“I am profoundly sorry for the way the force failed…..”
“To the extent that I have contributed to the situation, I am profoundly sorry.”
“I wish to reiterate that I am profoundly sorry for my actions……”
“I am profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered…..”
“I am profoundly sorry for making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke.”
“This should not have happened and I am profoundly sorry that it did.”
At one level I’m glad people are apologising for these heinous situations, especially when some of the apologies have been a very long time coming. At another level I can’t help thinking “I am profoundly sorry” is the expression du jour. A bandwagon to address past wrongs with a few well-chosen words. Unfortunately words do not adequately make up for these situations and they’re unlikely to hold much comfort for people who have been affected by them.
I suppose “I am profoundly sorry” is a start. I think “I am profoundly sorry and commit to ensure this doesn’t happen again” would be better.