By Billy Lee – Feb. 2022

A recent post, “ It Takes Character To Apologize After 70+ Years” taught me a lesson and made me feeling more Hopeful & Encouraged. Yes, we have all made mistakes , but mistakes can be corrected. Feelings may have been hurt, but Good Feelings can be reinstated. Recognizing one’s own mistakes comes with experience and learning – sometimes enlightened by other people we trust. To apologize and offer amends shows maturity and indeed wisdom. Carrying a deep sense of guilt for any length of time is burdensome – not possibly enjoyable.

Sometimes we have hurt people without knowing so. Sometimes even good intentions bring unintended and not very good results. Often we react too quickly and most of the time we don’t take time to choose the most appropriate way to respond.

Two weeks ago, as my two adult sons came to dinner, I learned from them something unbelievable about myself. “ Dad, you were really blunt and demeaning to your Architectural assistants, when you had your practice at home. We heard it all. It wasn’t just once or twice ! “

Wow, I couldn’t believe that I was so unkind, but I could not deny that I had reprimanded the young assistants often and emphatically to drill deep my complaints. I had yelled “Stupid ! Have you no brains ?” Truly, I thought I was doing them a favor, but I did not do it the right way. Truly, I did not intend to hurt them, but I should have realized that the way I treated them was insensitive and inconsiderate. It could have hurt deeply as my two adult sons now assured me. I truly need to apologize to my young assistants – sincerely, most regrettably – belately – now after 30+ years.

I have been on the receiving side myself. My French teacher had called me, “Impossible ! Imbecile !” in front of the class. My mother had given me “Chestnut strikes” on my head how many times I don’t remember. Certain schoolmates had taunted me because I was Chinese and I was skinny with yellow skin. Fortunately, I am not a grudgingly sensitive person. I never considered myself a victim, and I found wonderful qualities from the same people after we got to know each other better.
Being kind of naïve is my real blessing. Forgiveness just comes naturally for me. It has served me well. Indeed, in today’s world we really need more tolerance and forgiveness. Apologies are not effective if the other side is not willing to forgive. Apologies surely will not be accepted if there is no trust in its sincerity.

Indeed, I must thank my nurse maid who told me about Guan Yin (觀音) , the Goddess of Mercy , when I was a child in China.