Isn’t humility required to make a confession? As in, the abeyance of pride and ego, to admit error? Of course this requires authenticity. One can go through the motions, mimicking righteous behavior in order to mask disingenuous intent and deceive an audience in order to gain praise, but if that’s the case, its anything but right action.
Of course when someone publicly confesses and apologies, it can seem like a game.
But everything is a game…literally. All human behavior is guided by rules, which are informed by morality, which is nothing more than an attempt to abstract the optimal behaviors for self-preservation. Every game has rules. You break the rules, there are consequences. Depending on which game you decide to play gets you different rewards. What isn’t a game? Work? Relationships? Friendships? Social obligations? Civil obligations? You speak like games are avoidable. It’s literally all there is in life. Game implies rules. You play it with the world, with others. Those who master the rules succeed.
It’s interesting that the etymology of confession and apology is rooted in a defense of one’s faith. I imagine when someone did something wrong, they confessed and apologized in order to right themselves with god, truth, righteousness or whatever ideal virtues a person lives by, and get back on track to moral living.
In order for real change to occur, the only way to confess and apologize is privately. But in order to regain public trust, I think a public confession and apology is necessary, whether you’re a civilian or a public servant. I just watched a politician’s apology for the first time, and it didn’t come across as authentic whatsoever, quite the contrary. I think these public displays capture the disingenuous apologies quite well. Now, whether the public will see through it will largely be a matter of whether the public is on good moral ground.
I think the ego is the source of suffering, the source of most problems. It’s not adaptable. It is right, it knows what it knows, its an extension of a need for control. But change requires faith, and that faith can be entirely pragmatic, not religious. Faith that the future, that not knowing the answers, that letting go of the old, of what you think you know, and embracing the unknown: this is necessary for change. Change is one of the fundamental truths of Buddhism: impermanence is the ultimate truth. Our inability to accept change leads to an inability to adapt, and the consequences is suffering.