Some errors require an apology. Errors in judgment that hurt someone else can mean everything from saying a simple “I’m sorry” to working toward amends. Completely unintentional errors can still cause harm and still deserve to have amends made—you may not have intended to ding the door of someone next to you in a parking lot, but you should still apologize instead of running off without leaving me a note. (Okay, well, without leaving someone a note.) It’s a courteous thing to do and it’s part of what makes the human experience more livable. We’re able to see each other and appreciate what we’re all bringing into our experience.
Mistakes happen at home, at work, in campaigns, online, or even with yourself—ask any adult who has accidentally burned their finger while cooking. It’s important to know it’s okay to feel bad. Having regret is absolutely okay. Find a way to assess how to make the situation right if you can, and if you can’t, acknowledge it and try to find a way to make sure it doesn’t happen the next time. Trial and error is sometimes the best of human experience.
When I was a high school student, one of my favorite teachers who taught calculous told us: If you fall on your face, you are at least 5-plus inches closer to your end goal than when you started because you had a chance to learn from your failure.
Mistakes aren’t the worst of us; sometimes mistakes are the best part of living. Mistakes can drive us to be better. They can help us make discoveries, break out of bad patterns, or force us to make decisions we’ve been avoiding.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t spend your time beating yourself up. Give a fair interpretation of what happened and work to address problems. Understand the difference between a mistake and a hazard or an intentional act. If you get one speeding ticket, that can be a mistake. If you have six of them, well, that isn’t much of a mistake at all.
All of the above represent mistakes or unintentional acts. Our culture is also filled with harms that are in no way a mistake. When we tell the story of our history, there are moments of joy and pride at the same time that there are moments we can’t dismiss as a simple mistake. Slavery was not a “mistake,” segregation was not a “mistake,” oppression was not a mistake. These were not “errors in judgment.” This is the fundamental problem with the way conservatives want to change how we teach history or how we talk about our country. Refusal to acknowledge these acts is also not a mistake in judgment. If a baseball pitcher throws a wild pitch and it flies over the catcher, it’s an error. If they accidentally hit a batter’s elbow or shin, that can be an error, a bad pitch. If a top-notch pitcher throws at someone’s head, however, that isn’t an error in judgment. He will get thrown out of the game. Period.
This is when we as a community here on Daily Kos work to act and support one another.
The mistake we always risk making? Refusing to look in the mirror.