“He betrayed me!!!”….REALLY???


Kenneth, the thing I don’t get is that he won’t even admit he betrayed me. He believes he’s innocent and hasn’t done anything wrong” she said

~ Yesterday a business associate of mine met me for coffee. In her late 30’s, a couple years ago she and a lifelong friend of hers created a fairly successful thrift store from scratch. They sell higher end, well maintained designer label clothes at a fraction of what it would cost to buy them new. Everything had been going really well the past couple years and their profits had practically doubled from the first year they started….until a few months ago.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her, sometime last summer her partner rented a building on the other side of town and opened up a brand new competing thrift store; he never told her. It was two months ago that he walked into the store, like any other day, and announced that he wanted to dissolve the partnership because he decided the time was right to have his own store that he owned all by himself.

Kenneth, I felt totally betrayed. I mean, if he felt that strongly about opening up his own shop I would have understood. But instead, he spent much of the last year stocking up an inventory for his opening; time that I thought he was working on buying inventory for our store. He was basically doing double duty by working behind my back. And now the kicker is that since his store’s grand opening two months ago, my sales have suddenly been cut in half; because he was half of our business, he was responsible for going out and stocking our shelves…..now I’ve been forced to work behind the counter and in the back room, I’m completely out of energy” she lamented.

Sadly, her story is not the first story I’ve ever heard about betrayal. I share in her sadness, it sucks when people betray you. It makes it even worse when the person who betrays you won’t even admit what they’ve done. In most cases, people refuse to admit their wrongdoing. They somehow justify in their mind that what they’ve done was within the bounds of integrity and ethics.

I’ve been betrayed by people a number of times in my life and only on one occasion did someone come back to me and apologize. It’s a rare occasion when someone admits they wronged you.

In politics we see this all the time; men and women who make promises only to break them, and then refuse to admit they lied or didn’t follow through on their promises.

The current political climate in many parts of the world is at an all-time low. Last week David Cameron of the United Kingdom suggested that Europe is at the brink of a collapse once again, he believes this next economic collapse might be even worse than what we saw in 2008. And while everyday men and women might be an easy target to blame for politicians, the reality is that the majority of us simply have very little power when it comes to the economic decisions of our governments. When an economy fails the responsibility lies at the feet of its political leaders.

Here in the United States, it’s been six years since the housing bubble burst and millions of Americans were tossed into financial ruin. As we have so many times in the history of our country, we’ve battled our way back up; but not because of any damn politicians. And maybe I’m complaining a bit too much; but it really bothers me that not one single person has ever apologized for their part in the housing bubble crisis…..NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON.

Of course, we know many of the players involved in the banking deregulation and the other bad decisions that led to the crisis; but none of those people have ever come forward and admitted their role in the crisis.

Is it too much to ask of people to apologize? Is it too much to ask of people who have betrayed us to take responsibility for their actions?

Clearly I’m living in a bubble myself; a bubble in which I believe people should admit to their wrongdoing and take responsibility for their actions….oh well, I think I’ll just have another cup of coffee.


Categories: Culture & Society

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28 replies

  1. It not only bothers me that not a single person has ever apologized for the housing crash, but bothers me more that no one is doing hard time in the Federal penitentiary for the crap they pulled.

  2. That’s really awful, unfair, unjust. Sometimes I wonder if people aren’t so afraid of confrontation these days, that it leads them to do these kind of sneaky things behind your back. I really like people who can be direct and straight forward about things. In politics it seems to be all about double speak and evading responsibility, too.

  3. That’s awful. It shows why you need a good contract when you go into business with someone.

  4. Reminds me of a book I read by Louis Nizer, a famous trail attorney. He made the observation that the part of the Perry Mason drama where the culprit is driven into a corner and finally admits his guilt and explains why almost never happens in a real court. He said the real culprits will almost never admit guilt on the stand – even when all the law of the universe point towards no other conclusion. It’s kind of depressing/aggravating.

  5. I wonder if our disconnect from one another has played a role in why so many people don’t seem to feel like they did anything they need to admit to or apologize for. So many people who have any sort of power or authority to effect other’s lives are so wrapped up in themselves it doesn’t even occur to them to consider how their actions affect others. I’m sure they have all sorts of justifications they tell themselves so they don’t have to feel guilty about destroying someone else’s life. Yet at the same time we see people apologizing like crazy for having an opinion or making a comment in private that gets leaked out to the public that offends a couple people and suddenly there’s a whole press conference and media frenzy requiring an apology. Society has some messed up priorities when it comes to owning up to shitty behavior.

  6. I am with you 100%. No one is willing to take responsibility for his or her own actions these days.

  7. Recently, a family friend “apologized” for his actions toward my family but it was a blanket apology and he did it in an email and never mentioned it again. I think there are elements to an apology that make it worth doing. However, I will not wait for this to happen. Like they say in AA, I can only clean my side of the street and the rest I have to let go. Maybe that was as much as he could do. Maybe he never felt he did anything wrong and was only apologizing to attempt to mend the relationship. Maybe our politicians don’t feel there was any wrong doing. I don’t know. But I know for me, humbling myself and making an apology that includes what I did in specifics, that I regret it and what my plan is to discontinue the behavior is the best way to heal my relationship with people.

    • I think that’s what a lot of people do when they apologize Callie; it’s not that they are actually apologizing, they just want the situation to be “mended” as you say

  8. It’s called market fundamentalism, and the ruling principle is that the bottom line is sacred, and anything to increase that is fair; the Hidden Hand will level all playing fields. See, it’s not just religion that plays this game!

  9. Almost, never happy.
    Put the vodka down because it was just an expression, not a suggestion..I mean your coffee 😀
    My apologies, I must have stated it wrong. 🙂

  10. There’s more sociopaths out there than we think.

  11. It’s a world of crime, corruption and political chicanery. 😦

  12. Funny. The exact same think happened to me some years ago. You just have to move on.

  13. Sad to say…..but that’s LIFE these days. It’s rare to find people apologising for their wrong doing in any situation.

    The best thing your business associate can do is, to diversify in a new direction and build her own success. Life isn’t meant to be easy, but it’s the way one picks oneself up and moves on (that creates inner peace and personal satisfaction). I might add it’s easy to play the ‘Blame Game’, but it doesn’t do anyone good, let alone self.

    Politicians ultimately want to be elected into positions of power and prestige. It’s usually before they were elected that they did the most good for the community.

  14. Kenneth, I totally agree with this. And then I think about my own life and wonder about the people I’ve wronged… Am I willing to go back and apologize in those situations… It’s a totally different feeling when the shoe is on a different foot.

  15. Our excessively legalistic culture has encouraged the view that it’s OK to do anything that it’s legal to do. As a result we have forgotten what it means to ‘do the right thing’. The American essayist, Albert Jay Nock, suggested that this peculiar practice emerged first in England because the English used to be relatively free in the sense that they did not have many laws to obey.

  16. Over here in Holland it’s no different. Somehow it seems that people in strategic places get away with a lot, like the Libor Scandal and stuff like that. Like clothedwithjoy already wrote: i also like to apologize for mistakes I’ve made, but somehow we become an endangered species. Most people nowadays seem to think it is legal to do illegal stuff because they see it happen all over the place. The question rises if morals are adjusted and we are all shifting slowly to a certain grey area.

  17. One of the lessons I’ve worked hard to teach my boss is that it’s okay to admit we’ve made a mistake, and to apologize for the error and then to make it right (as much as is within our capabilities.) I’ve explained time and time again that there is no need for us to point the finger of blame anywhere else, all we are responsible for is ourselves, and that is what we should take responsibility for.
    There are times I still have to remind him that he/we need to apologize, but for the most part, he knows when it needs to happen. In the beginning he was hesitant, it’s not easy to admit failure or that you made a mistake in a culture the revers perfection; however, he was amazed at how understanding and accepting everyone was when he stood up and took responsibility for his actions that created the mistake. He was so shocked at the repeat business we got from a client that he made a goof on – but they appreciated his honesty and the fact that he didn’t try and shift blame, they love working with us knowing we are accountable.

    I’m sure there is a lesson in there, somewhere! But back to your post, I can’t make others apologize, I can’t force others to take responsibility for their actions, I can only lead by example and take claim for my actions.

  18. I am with you in that bubble. And I will continue to be in this bubble. And I will get my kids into this bubble as well. I just wrote a column on this matter needless to say this was one of the things I dislike the most at other people.

  19. Kenneth, as always right on the money. .. The issue with apologies is the other side of the coin- responsibility. Since the late 60s, early 70s when we started this no fail policy in school, we have gradually been eroding the personal responsibility aspect of American life. The 80s and 90s were all about personal fulfillment- from the president on down! So what can we expect now? The old motto, ‘each one, teach one’ is the only way we’ll get back to ethical choices and personal integrity, IMHO… Thanks for the reminder!

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