When to apologize?

I came into the middle of a radio program, but from the sound of it, the guest was a prior-nazi-sympathizer who was treated in the hospital by someone who was Jewish. The doctor saved his life, despite his wearing a swastika.

The guest’s beliefs had shifted, and he was grateful to that doctor. The host and others encouraged the guest to find the doctor and thank him, and to apologize for his hate.

The guest hadn’t done so because of his own shame, and, at least he told himself, because he thought the doctor wouldn’t want to hear from him.

So when is an apology appropriate?

I have often found myself wanting to apologize for something that I am not proud of, and yet hesitating or not doing it because of my own shame. Is it better just not to say anything? If enough time has passed, maybe they will forget what I did? Maybe I will stir up old emotions….maybe it will actually hurt them more.

Funny what we tell ourselves. I’m not sure that an apology is always the right answer. But it may be welcome more than we want to believe. And sometimes the apology may hurt, we may be opening up to hearing how deeply we hurt someone, but maybe that will allow both parties to heal.

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