Saturday, 25 July 2009

Modern apologies

The storm-in-a-tea-cup in which the president of the USA criticised and then apologised for criticising a particular police department is a good illustration of the fall of the modern West.

This isn't a remark about President Obama personally; his "apology" is simply a good specimen of the corruption of modern manners. As society progressively does its best to abolish the idea of sin, trailing along with that the idea of taking responsibility for sin goes the same way.

Here's what was said. On Wednesday, the President said, "The Cambridge police acted stupidly". Now, he has said, "I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department". (

Now, to anyone in the world who's still sane, the President obviously did directly "[malign] the Cambridge police department". He called them stupid. If the word "malign" has any meaning at all, he maligned them, and that was precisely the intention when he opened his mouth to speak. But note now the very modern apology. He didn't actually malign them; rather, he gave that impression. Not a reality, note! Or rather, he thinks he gave an impression - there's still some room for doubt, if you've got time to do a thorough investigation. It's regrettable if you picked up that intention from his words.

This is original sin and human pride in action. To say "sorry, I maligned them and it was wrong" is just 8 words, that costs not one dime to say and only about 2 seconds of your time (much less than the long-winded, convoluted alternative). What it does cost, is a little loss of personal pride, a price which we all find a lot harder to pay. There's a tension between the fuss caused by having done something wrong, and this price - so instead, he tries to pass us a counterfeit instead; de-weaselising the code, he said "you misread me in thinking I said something regrettable, which ultimately is your mistake as much as mine, so we're about evens". Original sin in action: a man with the gifts, intelligence and drive to rise to the highest office in the world yet has not enough control over his own ego to admit to having been wrong about something totally and utterly trivial.

Again, this isn't about President Obama - he's hardly the first or the last politician to promise "change" and "a new politics", blah blah, but it's also useful to note how quickly such promises turn into the "same old, same old". Original sin is real, and can't be abolished simply with good intentions, charisma, education, better politics, etcetera. The world needs one thing and one thing only - to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, and to bow to him.

Let me repeat again - it's not about Barack Obama. What he did is totally common-place. It happens so often that we don't even notice it. And that again is a proof that original sin is exactly what the Bible says it is - rampant, everywhere. That's why we need such a solution as the Son of God dying for us - everything else, however good it sounds, doesn't actually deal with the problem. If a world leader can't even say "yup, I was wrong, let's not make excuses", what does that say about the condition of man?

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