In the course of my (continuing) evolution as a social being, I have said things for which an apology was appropriate. Some were eventual and some were needed instantly.
I remember one in particular. I insulted a three star general in front of his peers from a position of (great) juniority on my part. His peers fled the room before he said a word in response, and boy did it get cold in that room.
He was carefully calculating what he would say when I blurted an apology. That’s when he got really mad. “What the **** are you apologizing for?”
I must say the question set me back. I thought it was obvious. I thought he meant “why.” He really meant “what” just as he said. He was a very precise man.
He told me I couldn’t apologize for insulting him, because I didn’t have his permission to insult him.
He told me I couldn’t apologize for how I felt about him, because he didn’t care how I felt about him.
He told me I couldn’t apologize because I had my facts wrong because what I had said was largely correct — although seriously lacking tact.
He said I could only apologize for having lost control of my mouth.
His stern look never melted. “Chris,” he said, “an apology is lubricant for the social machine, but just as often it is a passive-aggressive tactic — get your message out there and then pretend the devil made you do it — and you inform the conversation in ways you may not have intended.”
“So, what do we have here?” He said. I immediately apologized for losing control of my mouth. A week later he invited me to lunch and that began a mentoring process and a friendship that lasted for years.
I read Mr. Carey’s message and received it loud and clear. I read his apology, and I believe he is sincerely sorry he voiced his opinion so clearly. He got his message out there — whatever made him do it. We know where he stands on cruisers — that stance didn’t change overnight because of the reaction, and isn’t going to change much over time. We know what will be going on behind the scenes on this issue when he is involved. He has informed us.