So I'm one of those old school types that actually believe words should matter. I greatly prefer sincerity to politeness as I do the company of someone I deem 'sincere' far above that of someone 'polite.' (All other things being equal, of course, and yes, there can be a WORLD of difference between the two). And yes, I still keep a copy of Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" on my desktop.
I have a friend who is VERY involved in Haiti. It's a passion he picked up somewhere along the way, I believe when he moved to a suburb just outside of Chicago, IL. He's visited the island a few times, he is involved with the Haitian-American community in his current home city, and he pays close attention to cultural and political developments there.
So you can imagine how much this week's news affected him. No surprise, he's sent a few *mass* e-mails to his close friends asking them to support the relief efforts and instructing them on the easiest ways to do it.
I fully believe in the righteousness of what he's doing, and have supported it with some directed text messages, as per his e-mailed instructions. The only constructive feedback I offered, however, was on the use of the word sorry, which at least bothered me enough to write back and ask that he please not use it. I have no idea if I came off sounding like the world's biggest jerk (and remember, no one likes constructive feedback as much as they say they do), but I'm not budging.
"Sorry to e-mail you guys..." "Sorry to give these gruesome details..." "Sorry for the impersonal note.." etc.
I may stand alone on this, and that's okay, but I personally believe the word 'sorry' should be reserved only for situations where some harm or offense was caused inadvertently. In other words, if we were walking in a crowd, and I accidentally bumped into you and knocked you on the shoulder, I would apologize. If I said something that bothered you, and you took the time to let me know about it afterwards, I would apologize. And so on and so on. You get the idea.
But if you're doing something you believe in, and your cause is just, go chest out and chin up. If you really believed it was somehow wrong or bothersome, you wouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you don't, then you're acting out of a sense of politeness, albeit insincerely.
I'm not sorry to have missed your call (unless we had scheduled a specific time to talk, in which case I might be).
I'm not sorry for anything I've ever e-mailed you (unless it offended you, even though no harm was originally meant).
And I'm not sorry for having written this entry -- though if it bothered you, let me know why, and I just might apologize..