Some time ago, I wrote a blog titled ‘Conscience; Why Do You Trouble Me?’
The next morning, I woke to find it had more visitors than any other blog I ever posted. The visitors came from Vietnam, China, The Arab Emirates, Singapore, USA and the four corners of the planet. I concluded that there are many people out there who may have lost their happiness due to a troubled conscience. Sometimes, the solution and relief for a bad conscience can be easy. But sometimes, more is needed.
In English we use the word ‘sorry’ in many contexts. Some trivial like getting in someone’s way in the supermarket or making a slight mistake at work and the like. We even say sorry when it is not our fault; we have a sorry reflex that’s meaningless and insincere. But what about more serious matters? To my knowledge, I don’t think we have a word that goes as deep as the Mandarin word ‘对不起.’ In English we would say, ‘I’m deeply sorry’ or ‘I’m sincerely sorry.’ However, the Mandarin word carries with it a genuine heartfelt spirit of self-reflection and need for action on behalf of those whom we have hurt. But as the songwriter sung, a genuine sorry is a hard word to say when we have wronged or hurt someone.
Why is that so? Many factors come to the fore such as pride, exposed vulnerability, arrogance, lack of empathy and lack of humility and shame.
Many years ago, there was a very humble character who rose to prominence and fame. One day he saw a beautiful woman in his district. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. But there was a problem, she was someone else’s wife.
Acting like a psychopath, he used his power to get her. He arranged to put her husband in the forefront of the battle lines to have him killed.
He then slept with the woman and never felt a spot of feeling of remorse for the woman’s husband.
An acquaintance came to know about his deed and told him a challenging story,
‘Once upon a time, there was a man who owned a lamb he purchased and nourished. He was a poor man, and he treasured the ewe lamb. It was loved and caressed by him and his children and would often sleep in their arms. It ate with the family and shared their food.
Now there was a wealthy king who had thousands of sheep and he wanted to prepare a nice meal for a visitor, so he took the poor man’s only sheep for the guest.
The man who committed adultery was deeply moved by the story and in an angry, sympathetic outburst said that the rich man who did this deserves to die.
The acquaintance then said, ‘you are indeed the man.’
The story brought home the seriousness of the man’s adultery by illustration. This is no children’s story. The man was the Hebrew King David. It really happened. You can read about it here in 2 Samuel 12,
King David fell to the ground and wept bitterly when he realised the depth of his act. The story engendered an epiphany, a self-discovery that made him see himself from outside himself.
Two matters are addressed in this Biblical account: David sinned against God and secondly, he sinned against his fellow man. There was a need for a genuine, repentant sorry relayed to all concerned.
The account also shows that our offenses, and violations are not secret. There will be a reckoning. It’s time to say that hardest word. Like King David, you may be forgiven. But there’s an if, one must manifest a heartfelt repentant spirit and never return to the sin.