Because if you do, somewhere a Canadian Prime Minister dies.
Mind you, Australians are also into the Sorry game. We’ve been forked into it by successive federal governments – and successful lobbyists – who have arranged for us to maintain a permanent attitude of apology to anyone who has decided to hire lawyers to demand it.
It is a business that changes frequently at the behest of university professors and radical writers. We are presented at intervals with scripts read out on private and public occasions that can be frankly bizarre. The most recent one I heard was an acknowledgement of aboriginal tribal elders prior to a middle east belly dance show held in a Croatian soccer club’s function centre. With portraits of HM Queen Elizabeth and Marshal Tito looking down over the crowd. Frankly, Salvador Dali couldn’t have drawn a more surreal spectacle.
For myself, I agree to apologise for any of my sins that have been detected. So far these have been remarkably few, and as I age, I move out of the danger zone. I still have sins, but people tend to think of them as charming peccadillos. I am not so much forgiven as tolerated. I am hoping to live long enough to get to the point where people will actually pay me for my errors of judgement. Then I can anticipate a steady income…
Should you apologise for the actions of your ancestors…or for the ancestors of other people? Should you apologise for being a migrant in a nation of migrants? Or a native in a nation of natives? Will it not be enough for you to apologise for your own follies, and leave those of others to them and to history?
I think so. I can find a number of cultural links that could place me in either the apologetic or the offended groups…and I would find myself frowning at myself and demanding compensation for things done 100 years ago by people I have never seen. The effort of doing the cultural book-keeping would be insurmountable…
I think I will just leave the past to cope with itself and concentrate on doing my own terrible things in the future.