Is it right to apologise for the past? Watch out for Xbox's 'Confessional Hero 1'

Just for argument’s sake, what if Britain was to apologise for America’s slaughter of Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Come on, we now have silly games designed to perpetuate the pre-adolescent in humanity such as ‘DJ Hero’, ‘Band Hero’, ‘Guitar Hero’, ‘Rap Hero’, ‘Etc Hero’, through which the juvenile, whatever the age, gets vicarious pleasure from pretending to be a spluttering rapper to an epileptic guitar ‘hero’ in the face of a celeb-worshipping mass of insensible fans. So how about, say, a ‘Confessional Hero’, where we pretend to take on the sins of others so that we might gain vicariously from whatever remorse and insights that the actual transgressors are supposed to feel – perhaps accessories could include knee pads, and for those with more money to spend, a confessional-like kneeling-bench with optional ‘luxury’ padding recycled from materials used in the Vatican.

After coming across BBC’s question – ‘Is it right to apologise for the past’, and ‘Should Governments apologise for past policies and events’ – I began to wonder if it was not for the ‘fragmentation of remorse’ by all of us having committed various misdeeds in varying locales distinguished by time and space, could we not have learnt from it and avoided perpetuating them in new forms? I often bemoan s.e.Asia not being afforded a similar experience such as the Jews in WWII. What a terrible thought to have right. But, its not that I wish that a similar genocide had taken place there, but that the s.e.Asians could at least learn from it through empathy with the Jews, Poles, Czechs, Romany, and others whom were slaughtered by cultural and racial supremacists, so that they might not act similarly via non-murderous means as they do now with the array of fascist governments ruling quite a bit of the region. If we could all take on the mindset of the remorseful Nazi and the victimised Jew; the penitent slaver and the enslaved African; or a remorseful Madeleine Albright and the dying Iraqi child; then perhaps we might do our utmost to stem the flow of the sins of the past into more ‘acceptable’ or less visible forms in the present.

It seems that when remorse is fragmented between individuals, nations, time, and a myriad of other forms of divisions, so are the lessons that could have been learnt. In fact, it seems that the only lessons that are learnt from the fragmentation of remorse is how to perpetuate the selfsame sin in acceptable forms.

Even if we might not be responsible ourselves for that which happened in the past, we are, at present, the stewards of the future, and by obligation, take on the sins of all that is located in the past despite it’s racial/cultural/national/etc point of origin or locale of commission. For the purpose of disengaging the hold of a questionable past on the times to come, we have to seek gain from the sins of those who came before us by acknowledge them as such and personalising it via an apology. That, perhaps, is how the future might be absolved from a re-enactment of the past.




  1. There aren't many (that I know)who want to think or concern themselves with the past. Most of them just want to feel good - pure pursuit of self-gratification.

    Most people that i know especially the chinese (in Asia)do not learn through empathy but through experience. Sadly to say, unless we put them through the horrid experience, they will never learn.

  2. Art imitates life... Most people around here are apologizing for anything and everything. There may as well be a videogame about it. We have folks here begging for forgiveness over slavery whilst none of us nor our parents were around before the emancipation proclamation was drafted and signed. Senators are still apeaking before congress apologizing for it. I don't know about you, but I feel the senator's time would have been better spent making sure it doesn't happen again. (Grandstanding for the people in your district wears thin when they are still being marginalized and exploited.) People remember the school lessons about that incident, but the life lessons are far forgotten.
    I worked with a guy who was chinese but not in locality as you would put it, but he recounted his visit to Pearl Harbor. He mentioned that he saw a family of Japanese tourists exploring the place and told me that he wanted to tell them that they shouldn't be there. I told him that while at worst, they could have been the children/grandchildren of the guys who bombed that base, it was crassly ignorant of him to hold them responsible. I asked him if he were to follow that line of thinking, were the people in Hawaii and California right to round up anyone with almond shaped eyes and keep them in a prison camp for a while? That conversation didn't end well, but he's some other agency's problem now, so it's OK.

    Anyway, apologizing in a game or in life doen't matter much to me. When someone apologizes to me, I want to be certain that they are apologizing for the right thing and not just for offending me. I also want assurances that it won't happen again.

    To that end, I think it is more important to focus on the environment that nurtured such an atrocity. Once we understand the factors that made it so easy for supposedly "normal people" to do such screwed up crap, it should be easier to mitigate it or perpetuate it with open eyes.
    Someone once said that we are in a race between education and catastrophe.

    I also wanted to add that people around here can't remember past 5 years it seems. People only look to history to use as a stick to reinforce the atrocities they want to commit yet if you look back even further, there is evidence that their atrocity du jour is an even worse idea.

    Guitar Hero is a good way to keep an idiot out of your hair.

    so is the internet...

  3. Hi Nik,

    "To that end, I think it is more important to focus on the environment that nurtured such an atrocity."

    That's the point exactly Nik. That is, for us to pretend that we're responsible for, say, bombing Hiroshima and Pearl Harbour, whilst taking on the plight and perspectives of the victims of both so as to practice global empathy - something that is sorely lacking, and increasingly so, with greater 'interconnectedness'.

    That sort of vicarious living, as opposed to 'band/guitar/DJ hero', might translate to greater social awareness and empathy - and not just when it comes to 'our own' national/group interests.

  4. Hi Maria,

    "Most people that i know especially the chinese (in Asia)do not learn through empathy but through experience."

    The problem with learning through experience as opposed to empathy is that the former will thus translate to doing one's best in the face of apathy, not to undo it, but to be able to contend with it. In that, apathy is reinforced and opportunism is amplified. That just about describes, amongst others, Chinese civilisation.


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