You’ve all heard about Jonah Hill saying something insulting to a paparazzo and apologizing on many talk shows now, right? I really really really love how he handled this situation.
Thank you, Jonah Hill, thank you for being a great example to all of us about how to own up to our mistakes, admit we did something wrong, giving a real apology and reminding us that there is never a good reason to use hurtful words.
As a teacher, this is something I have always found difficult to instill in children. They instinctively (or perhaps it’s a learned behavior?) go on the defense. “I didn’t mean to!” “That’s not what I meant!” “She started it!” “It’s not my fault”. After lots of explaining that whether or not it was “meant” it did hurt someone’s feelings and therefore it deserves an apology. This usually ends in a very meaningless “sooorrrrryyy”. It’s a true struggle to teach a child to not only take responsibility for their actions, but to show remorse towards the person they hurt.
What’s much much harder is teaching this to adults. My Husband and I are guilty of doing exactly what my first graders did. When Husband tells me I hurt his feelings, I immediately want to argue and say “No, I didn’t!” “You took what I said out of context!” “I’m just in a bad mood.” “Don’t take it personally.” What a terrible way to respond to someone who is trying to be open and honest and express how you made them feel? Each of us have been working on apologizing first and then trying to change the way we speak to each other to avoid hurting each other down the road. It takes practice, but I think all of our relationships would benefit from this.
Finally, there are quite a few celebrities who should be taking tips from Jonah Hill. How much easier would life be if they just took responsibility for the racist/sexist/homophobic/ignorant/hurtful/controversial thing that was blown up in the media and apologized? No one cares if you meant it, were set up, taken out of context, joking or any other excuse. What everyone will remember is that you were brave enough to say “Hey, what I did was wrong and I’m sorry.” We all make mistakes and it’s much easier to forgive someone who is honest and learns from their mistakes.
Way to take a mistake and turn into a life lesson for all of us Mr. Hill.