Monday, August 12, 2013

No Excuses Here, Just Explanations and Apologies

So here is how I picture the blog right now, readers:  it is a less than picturesque ghost town, extremely dusty, with a tumbleweed or two rolling aimlessly down the dismal, empty street of what was once a bustling gold rush town with a saloon and a general store, maybe a livery stable... Whoa Nellie! I'm getting farther off the track than ever.  (I'm such a geek-- I just went off and virtually checked whether I should say further, instead of farther, only to spend 15 minutes reading about how they are just about equivalent...)

"Really?" you might ask," is that kind of word-nerd lollygagging why it's taken so long to write a simple blog post?" And I might be tempted to tell you about the nasty summer cold I've had, or that I've been busy writing a couple of pieces for one of my favorite sites, The Equals Record, or that Delia is starting second grade and Fiona is going to start kindergarten, or the fact that I started a part time job about six weeks ago. (A job really does take up a lot of a girl's free time.)  All of these circumstances might have impacted my blogging productivity-- and indeed they have.  But because of the weird way my brain works (thanks to years of studying philosophy-- oh yeah, and law school didn't make me want to stop over-thinking this kind of thing either) I can offer these as explanations for why I haven't blogged, but not as excuses for failing to post.
...or not.  This image from here.
"What's the difference?" you might ask.  (Yeah, I have you pegged as pretty inquisitive.)  Or maybe you don't really care and maybe it doesn't really matter in this one-sided conversation I'm having with you. But there is an important difference between an explanation and an excuse, which I suppose is pretty obvious, but which I find is often skipped over in every day conversations.  An explanation gives just a reason for something, but an excuse is some kind of mitigating circumstance that somehow gives the offerer a pass for some undesirable behavior.  Like neglecting to blog.  To me, and to some other philosophers, an excuse also comes with an implied and valid request for forgiveness, or as we real people like to call it, an apology.  I don't know about you, but I get a lot of explanations offered to me as though they were excuses, and it doesn't make me feel too kindly toward the offerers.  Especially when the apology that might have been implied with a genuine excuse is never actually offered.

We tend to think that circumstances beyond our control are valid excuses, because, well, we couldn't control them, so they don't count against our valiant effort to do whatever it is we are supposed to do. So, a traffic tie-up on the interstate can be offered as an excuse for being late to a meeting, but stopping to have coffee and a chocolate cheese danish really can't, because, while I had no control over the traffic situation,  I could have easily built time into my commute for a delectable snack, to avoid being late and inconveniencing whoever I am meeting. Likewise, illness is usually counted as a genuine excuse, because, really, who would choose to be sick? On the other hand, even illness can fall out of the excuse category if someone is believed to be responsible for their sickened state (hello, hung over much?) Just to let you know, I have saved you whole philosophy books' worth of discussion about the difference here, but I think I've still gotten the salient point across, so, you're welcome.  And I'm not saying the philosophy is air-tight here, either, so I reserve the right to apologize in the future if I've been unclear or if I figure out a better way to explain this.  
I know, right?  From here.

Anyway, all I'm really trying to say here is that, while we can explain or offer reasons for some things, like I can for not blogging, we can't always offer excuses. And when we can't, maybe we shouldn't try.  Because people who do things like neglect their blogs, or come in late to meetings with chocolate on their faces and lattes in their hands, or step on your foot, or whatever people do to neglect, or inconvenience, or hurt you, should really understand that when they're only offering an explanation, it should come with a clearly stated apology.  And maybe a promise to do better next time, because, after all, they're asking you to forgive them, and still like them and read their blog and stuff.

So, I am really sorry if I let you down, because I really like you and hope you'll still read my blog. I know this is just a small thing in a big hectic world, but I'm going to double my efforts to blog now and heck, yeah, for avoiding other stuff that I really should do to be a good person.

Even though you're thinking, "Wait, what, she didn't blog-- who knew?  I was busy... but that's no excuse for not reading someone's blog, right?  I should do better..."  

That's why we're friends.  

Tumbleweed pic from here.

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