In 1993, the U.S. House and Senate passed and President Bill
Clinton signed a Resolution of Apology for using U. S. military forces
to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii. It was 100 years after we
overthrew Queen Liliuokalani, the last ruler of the kingdom, on
January 14, 1893..
It wasnâ€™t the first apology weâ€™d made. We apologized to
Native Americans for taking their land and breaking our treaties, to
African Americans for slavery and segregation, to Japanese
Americans for the internment camps and for confiscating their land
It isnâ€™t just the government that does it. A whole series of
politicians and celebrities have apologized for sexual, moral and
In our own lives, we all too often find ourselves needing to apologize--
to family, friends, business associates. Itâ€™s important to apologize
for the wrong things that weâ€™ve done. It can allow the other
person we've wronged to forgive us and move beyond holding
But sometimes an apology just isnâ€™t enough. As Christians, we
use a term that means taking the next step. That term is repentance.
Repentance means not just being sorry, but doing something about it.
Repentance means a turnâ€”a 180 degree turnâ€”a turn that sends us
back in the opposite direction. It means changing our approach to
life so we no longer want to do the thing we had to apologize for.
It doesnâ€™t mean being perfectâ€”thatâ€™s not going to happen.
But it does mean changing our orientation to the point where we no
longer want to do wrong. Beyond that, it means doing what we can
to make things right.
As a nation, weâ€™ve treated others as means to our ends. When
we speak of our national interest, thatâ€™s often what we mean.
Weâ€™re important, and nobody else matters. When dealing with
individuals, thereâ€™s a word for that attitude as well. The word is
childish or infantile. The childish or infantile person wants his way ,
no matter who gets hurt in the process.
When the nation repents, we also need to do what we can to make
things right. That may mean paying reparations, restoring what has
been taken, or just learning to get along and treat others with respect.
So long as we look down on other people or groups of people, so
long as we see them or their possessions or natural resources as fair
game to be exploited for our benefit, our apologies are pretty
If we constantly find ourselves having to say we're sorry--either as
individuals or as a nation--maybe we haven't really apologized.
Maybe we need to look again at the concept of repentance.
When we grow up and learn to respect others sincerely, to feel truly
sorry when weâ€™ve wronged them, to really desire to make things
right--we'll feel better about ourselves, we'll enjoy greater respect
from others, and our relationships will be smoother, more satisfying,
and more beneficial for all concerned.
Contrary to the line in the movie, love doesn't mean never having to
say you're sorry. It means saying you're sorry, sincerely and from the
heart, whenever you've done anything to hurt another person, then
doing everything in your power to repair the breach between you.