[personal profile] wingedbeast
"Mistakes were made" is a frustrating phrase to hear. Once used without irony, and you don't need to know any other context. You know you're dealing with a special kind of cowardice and greed. The speaker wants the credibility and respect due to someone with the strength of character to acknowledge their wrongdoings and take the hard steps to correct them. Yet, the speaker doesn't actually want to acknowledge wrongdoings or make any difficult changes, even to something as simple as their attitude regarding the possibility that they could be doing wrong.

Sometimes, the worst part is that the speaker doesn't see the difference between what they did and an actual display of the strength of character for which they want that credibility and respect.

Take the frustration you feel when you see a politician say that, the sick powerlessness when you hear those words coming out of your boss's mouth, the deep annoyance when a defendant says that and remember it.

Now, remember back to the times when you told someone that you understand that they've been hurt by others who hold your faith. Think of the instances where you said, to someone not of your faith, that you, too, are angered by the sins of the distant past. Keep remembering while you also remember the times when you said that other people have made mistakes, and you're sorry about that, but that they should give you and your particular sect a fair shot.

Like the CEO who says "mistakes were made" with regards to the way factories were run that allowed toxic spills into drinking water or with regards to the manner of outsourcing that turned a blind eye towards slave labor, the effort is to make it seem like you're responsible and wise without facing the consequences of past actions, without making the necessary changes.

For a more specific version, consider the times someone has said, of Christianity's relationship to homosexuality, that "Some Christians have done a horrible thing by our gay brothers and sisters. We, as Christians have an obligation to let them know that we invite them and love them despite their sins and hope to help them overcome."

It's a fact of life that actions have consequences. It's a sometimes unfair fact of life that the consequences will, sometimes, land on someone who didn't do them. But, still they are there.

If you're going to enter into these conversations, you have to do so with that reality in mind. Sometimes, other people's mistakes are just that, other people's and not yours to leverage for credibility. Sometimes your mistakes, or those of the particular faith-group you're with, are just that, your mistakes and, before credibility can be regained, you have to go through those consequences before you can go past them.



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