When one public figure in the United States recently said the equivalent of those words, people listened.
Such admissions are rare these days, whether made publicly or even privately. To say "I'm sorry" takes little more than a grain of humility, though it often earns a heap of respect. If sincere, such an admission implies the desire to rectify mistakes and to do better. Humility is a prerequisite to the admission of a mistake; whatever error has been committed must be seen and acknowledged before it can be repented of.
Just as it helps an artist to visualize that the geometric perspective in a drawing is out of kilter before correcting it, so it helps us to see the way things should be, in order to recognize a mistake when we make one or see one made. The way to become familiar with reality (with the truth) is to become acquainted with God and His ways. God is Spirit, and His creation is spiritual. The beauty of the landscape, the infinite expanse of the stars, the love shared between parent and child-these all hint at the infinitude and eternality of God.
God is expressed in unselfish love. He is manifested in integrity. He is perceived in order and in harmony. In beauty, grace, form, color. God is the substance of prosperity, the very source of intelligence, health, and peace. Whenever the truth is voiced, whenever mercy and forgiveness spur action, whenever healing occurs or innocence is displayed, God is evident. He is everywhere, and we can look for daily evidence of His presence.
It takes a spiritual view of existence, an acquaintance with facts of God and His creation, to know how things should be and, conversely, be able to detect a mistake. Christ Jesus had this view and showed the practicality of it. A knowledge of God corrects errors in human thought and experience. Thus it is not surprising that in the midst of problems like drug abuse, urban violence, marital strife, and illness, there is often an interest-even an unconscious one-in the spiritual; people are hungry for solutions and healing.
Not one of those troubles comes from God. They are all errors in need of correction. Believing that evil of any nature has reality in it is the biggest mistake of all. The reason is that, because God is All, that which is the opposite of Him in quality cannot be genuine or lasting. It must be only a mistake.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book available in many bookstores. In explaining the truth of the Holy Bible, it satisfies the desire for something better than the evils that overwhelm society today, be they in the form of incurable disease, violence of every name and nature, or environmental destruction. In Science and Health you'll find this remark: "The great mistake of mortals is to suppose that man, God's image and likeness, is both matter and Spirit, both good and evil" (p. 216). Further on, in a chapter entitled "Fruitage," is the testimonial of a woman who was healed of peritonitis and constant headaches just by reading Science and Health, the textbook of Christian Science. She recognized that the orthodox belief in the reality of both good and evil is mistaken. She found the truth-and her physical freedom-through understanding God to be All and to be good alone (see pp. 653-654).
Mistakes cause sorrow until they are seen and repented of. Hence the appropriateness of saying one is sorry for a mistake. For example, the Bible relates the sorrow felt by Paul after he realized he had persecuted followers of Jesus (see Acts, chap. 9). He had believed persecution was right. But when he learned the perfect and eternal nature of God, which Jesus preached, Paul's view was changed. He repented and became a follower of Jesus, taught the truth Jesus preached, and healed people.
This hints at how all mistakes can be overcome. To be sorry for a mistake is a good first step. Then, to correct it brings a joy that annuls sorrow.