As Chairman of Apologies Inc. I am pleased to report that we have had another bumper year and that business is booming. In fact, the federal treasurer was saying just the other day during a visit he made to our new look, state-of-the-art premises with dedicated Remorse Room, that with the budget surplus disappearing over the horizon like Burke and Wills, the apologies industry looks like the only growth area in the entire Australian economy.
This may have come as a surprise to some analysts, but it was certainly not a surprise to us, or our business consultants at KPMG. We had known for months that half of the Australian population were agonising over something they knew they should apologise for. Some of them could not sleep because of some terrible thing they had done which called for an apology. It might be telling an Irish joke, which is rampant racism. Or making a snide remark about Qantas stewards, which of course is judgmental stereotypical sexism. Some clients know it is not appropriate to say they hate Chinese food, which is pure racism that evokes the colonial past when the Chinese were a discriminated minority.
Others are worried that they stood up in the train for a lady, clearly a demonstration of toxic male hegemony and patriarchal condescension. But those cases are really the easy ones, because the clients know they should apologise and they know for what.
The harder nuts to crack are those who feel guilty but do not know what they feel guilty about. In fact, some clients are so ignorant that they do not feel guilty about anything and think they have nothing for which they should apologise. But we have been working on that sickness and can now say unequivocally that we will find a suitable apology for every client who comes though our doors. They may not feel guilty when they come in, but they will by the time they leave.
We start our new clients off with a complimentary one-hour induction session in the Remorse Room with our Director of Empathy who is particularly good at finding what it is that clients feel guilty about and even better at finding guilt if it is not there. After years of indoctrination, we find Australians are really guilty because they are prosperous, they live in a country that has free elections, the rule of law, social welfare, freedom, education and a country that everyone wants to come into rather than leave. Some feel guilty for being white; others for not being black; some for being Christians and others for not being Muslims. And if there is one thing that goes hand in glove with guilt, it is apologising for your own part in it. So, the great success of our company is matching an apology with every case of guilt.
The first step in that process is for clients to admit they are apology deniers. We cannot really do anything for them until they face up to what they are. So we encourage our clients to sit in the Circle of Contrition and say ‘Hullo, my name is John Smith. I am a recovering apology denier’. The second step is to tell their story. We ask them to speak for no longer than 15 minutes, especially as they are only paying $500 for the session, minus the Medicare rebate (apology denial is now a recognised mental illness).
What quickly comes to the surface is the need to apologise, so we gently guide our clients to one of our broad range of apology options that suits their particular guilt. Some clients want to apologise for being Australian at all and recognise that all our troubles began with the British invasion. Others apologise for stealing the Aboriginals’ land (we have not found any clients who have given it back, but we will eventually find a few). Others apologise because the country has built dams, mines and factories. A lot apologise for making money and some apologise because the whole country is too rich. Some apologise because the government will not allow every African and Arab to come here if the mood takes them. Others apologise for being men, because of the hideous things that men do to women. Others apologise for climate change caused by Scott Morrison.
So, have we now apologised for everything that needs an apology? No. In fact, we go to great pains to ensure that we have a continued supply of new apologies to meet the unique needs of our clients. Our dedicated spotters pour over the New York Times and the Guardian every day and provide a never-ending source of original apologies, available exclusively to our clients.
As I say, business is booming, so much so that we have had to put on extra staff. We have just taken on several grief counsellors, an Islamic cross-cultural change consultant and two apprentice grovellers. We are also sponsoring a degree in Apology Studies at the Balmain Polytechnic. (You can take it as a double-major with Sustainable Tax Avoidance, a very popular combination). And our Outreach Director is arranging a joint program with Get Up! for the whole country to apologise for the mining industry, with Prince Harry as our special patron (all major credit cards accepted).
You can also change your apology from day to day; you do not have to apologise every day for what we have done to the polar bear, because you can always move on to the koala, the kangaroo, the threatened wilderness or the Great Barrier Reef (for a small extra fee). And our friends in the ALP and the Greens have made the original suggestion of carry-over credits to spread their apologies over several years.
Yes, apologies are a boom industry and by the look of the company tax we pay, the surplus will soon be back on the agenda.
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