It's not that I never feel sorry, it's just that my moral compass doesn't shift around all that much. I mean, I think about what I'm going to do or say before I do or say it (or, you know, have the illusion that I do; let's not turn this into an argument about free will), and apply said moral compass before the fact. Most of the time, if something reads WRONG, I don't do it in the first place. That way, I minimize both guilt and regret (feelings I despise). Obviously, other people in my life may disagree with the settings; they may feel I've done wrong by their lights and demand apologies, but saying "I'm sorry" when I don't believe I've done anything wrong by my own lights has never sat well with me. Also obviously, sometimes I recognize that something is wrong and do it anyway, or I don't apply much forethought at all (in moments of high emotion or compromised sobriety, say).
But most, less robotic people say "I'm sorry" now and again. And my thinking is that, in order to feel genuine regret for your actions, one or the other of these has to be true:
- Your own system of "right" and "wrong" varies from moment to moment or day to day. Yesterday, what you did didn't feel wrong, but today it does.
- Your system of right and wrong doesn't vary much, but you semi-frequently ignore your own morals; in other words, you knew what you did yesterday was wrong when you did it, but you did it anyway.
So what I'm wondering is, which is more true for most people? If you, reader, are given to occasional apologies, which feels more true for you?