So it seems that… 126 years after Charles Darwin’s death, the Church of England is considering apologizing to him. Considering. It is not yet an official Church position, so perhaps we shouldn’t get our hopes up. But at least one cleric, the Rev. Malcolm Brown, feels strongly enough about it that he has launched a website to promote the idea.
I guess one must call this progress, of a sort–at least it is not the religiously motivated abject denial of science and vilification of Darwin that we see in (some… most?) fundamentalist churches. But frankly, it seems to me that apology and forgiveness are part of the social interactions of living people. Once someone has died, you have missed your opportunity to apologize to them. There are enough wrongs in the world that really could use addressing–even if it is simply though apology and forgiveness–that muddying up the “I’m sorry” business by apologizing to the dead is not really helping much. Perhaps even hurting–if I can insult you, then assuage my guilt by apologizing after you are dead, that’s not a lot of motivation for me to do anything about it while you are still around.
Anyway, just my 2 cents.
When giving an apology
To one you’ve wronged, it seems to me
That person really ought to be
Alive, so they can hear.
The Church of England feels it owes
Apologies, to put a close
To punching Charles Darwin’s nose
For oh so many years
“Our first reaction sure was wrong
But now I’m sure we get along
So let’s just tell the gathered throng
We’re sorry stuff was said”
“And though it’s just a little late,
We think, if you will contemplate
That you’ll forgive us—oh, but wait—
It seems that you are… dead.”
“So we could beg and wail and plead
And ask forgiveness in a screed
But there’s no Darwin there to read
What’s written on our letter.”
And so, although it’s overdue,
And makes no difference, Chuck, to you,
To say it’s worthless is untrue:
The Church, at least, feels better.
If you should spread the worst of lies
And hope to then apologize
And make it count, I would advise
You do it while they live.
But if your true, unstated, goal
Is really to yourself console
Who cares if Darwin’s in a hole?
I’m sure he’ll still forgive.