Jose Antonio Cangco

My mother was a very religious woman and she was also familiar with a lot of quotations. Before I went to school, her favorite quotation seemed to be: "Patience is bitter but the fruit is sweet," saying it while turning her back and walking away from me. But one quotation which she did not say so often was: "To err is human, to forgive divine."

When I reached college and got into a lot of trouble, I started musing what the last quotation really means for us. This is what I found out:

Not everybody may agree with what I'm going to say next, and many more of you may form the opinion that I'm too harsh, demanding and exact, but how many of us say "I'm sorry" and then really mean it?

It is so easy to hurt somebody accidentally or intentionally and get away with it. We say "I'm sorry" or "Sorry" and hope that everything will turn out fine for the poor fellow and ourselves. But when we have hurt somebody's feelings or his physical well-being is saying "I'm sorry" enough?

This is where the bone of contention lies because I don't think saying "Sorry" or "I regret it" or other similar phrases is enough because it should be followed by a series of actions to give it life and meaning.

There are three ways of expressing with action when we are really sincere and feel with remorse over what we have done wrong. First, we must undo what harm we have done or correct the mistake we have made. To illustrate with a hypothetical and common case, employee E steals money from his employer R. R confronts him who admits his guilt. To undo what he has done, he should return the money.

The second course of action that we should take to express remorse over what we have done is to accept the punishment or penalty that may be imposed upon us without any unnecessary or excessive complaints, and possibly with humility.

Applying this second course of action in our example, E should accept the punishment or penalty that may be imposed on him by the court or proper authority as a result of his theft. He should not present false witnesses, alibis, or fabricate wild excuses in his defense but to accept without complaint that he has done something wrong.

The third course of action after complying with the first two is for us to promise never to commit the same wrongful deed again. Accordingly in our example, employee E should use all humanly efforts possible not to commit the crime of theft again, and avoid other harmful behaviour.

It is a simple enough example which we have chosen and can be extended and applied to all transgressions that man commits. Man is frail, that is why we have quotations to guide us.

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