Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Apology

I have been blogging for almost 2 years now (March 11, 2005). In that time, I have been spared truly mean-spirited comments or attacks on my thoughts, views, etc.

That changed the other day. During the dialogue on my post A Major Faith Struggle, I made the following comment to one of the participants in the discussion:

One thing you might consider and of which you may be unaware. When you draw discussions in the direction you have, and which you have done before, it quickly moves away from the intent of the original post and you become the focus. I don't think you want to appear narcissistic, but you may want to consider the effect.

The person to whom I addressed this comment responded and did not seem to take offense.

However, someone else left this comment anonymously:

I find it comically unbelievable that Tony would suggest that someone else is narcissistic. Wow. This will now be my new definition of irony.

My first reaction was shame, which then bred a little anger, then settled down pretty quickly into an embarassed hurt. The pain was confounded by the fact that I have no context in which to judge the statement; no identity with which to associate it. What relationship do I have with this person? It is very hard to know how to weigh the comment and its merit.

What hurt the most, besides the validity of writer's accusation, was the underlying venom present in the comment. It seemed so vindictive and I could not get a grasp on why. This confusion was compounded by a follow-up response after I challenged the person to not leave such biting criticism anonymously. I left my email address so that the person could respond discretely and I promised to keep their ID confidential. Here was the response to that challenge:

I WILL do it annonymously. If you don't want annonymous comments, you can remove the ablitity to do so. Otherwise, I will continue lobbing grenades at will.

After stewing on all this, I realized something. Something that made me feel awful. I realized that this comment had to be made by someone I had hurt in some way. A hurt of which I am likely unaware. It obviously wasn't a small slight either. I must have hurt them significantly.

I pray that the following appears sincere and neither narcissistic nor sarcastic, because I intend sincerety. I would prefer to do this in person so as to avoid any misconception, but the anonymity of the comment leaves me no choice but to do it publicly.

So my final response is to offer my sincerest apology for causing such harm. If I ever find out who you are, I will ask for your forgiveness directly. Until then, I hope you will accept my apology in this forum and forgive me.



Malia said...

Tony, you have such a big heart! I know you feel like you must have somehow personally hurt this anonymous person but I've also been blogging for almost two years now and one thing I've learned is that people can have incredible nerve and "cajones" from behind a keyboard. My gut reaction is not that you've personally offended this person rather they are intimidated by you. Again, not because you've offended them but because they may see more of themselves in you that they would like to admit. What's that phrase I've heard Camp say, "If you spot it, you've got"?

Your apology is sincere and tenderhearted and I hope you don't "lose too much sleep" over this!

That's all...I'll end my pop psychology rant now.


JMG said...

A sincere person who has a genuine problem with you should use the biblical formula when approaching you concerning a grievance: Speak privately to you first in order to try to settle the matter. It's too bad that this person would rather embarrass you in public instead of speaking to you personally. Anyone who knows you knows that you have a tender heart and would not rest until you make the matter right.

Tony Arnold said...

Malia, I am overwhelmed. Thank you for the kind words. It really means a lot to me.

I can't imagine intimidating anyone with my blog...with my male, oblivious insensativity yes.

I have not lost any sleep and I have become more patient and mature in my middle age than to beat myself up over such issues.

However, unaware narcissism has been a weakness, and I am concerned that this may be someone I have personally affronted, and I do want to clear the air of any baggage I may have created.

Thanks again Malia.

Tony Arnold said...

JMG, thank you for your support. I too wish that the person had handled their concern differently.

But doing that is not easy and it certainly goes against our culture which I think nurtures a more passive/agressive or conflict avoidance approach to solving problems. Also, it is not my place to undermine their freedom to respond as they see fit

I can truly put myself in the shoes of a person that is outraged or put off by someone, wants to confront them, but is hesitant to do it openly. I have done the same myself on a few occassions. I always regretted it.

I learned that method doesn't work. It never alleviated my umbrage, and it had little affect on my target.

Again, I greatly appreciate the kind words, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression. I submitted this post to apologize, not to garner sympathy.