I am not against apologies but this interaction highlights in my mind what usually happens when bad things happen. In this instance the bad thing that occurred fortunately was that people were only inconvenienced on their way home from work. There was no loss of life. Fallible humans too often seem to have a belief that inconveniences and bad events absolutely should not happen. I think the spokesperson could have ended the discussion of the incident with the reporter by simply saying “We at the railroad apologize but sadly, these things happen.”
My point is that we live in a world of imperfection were bad events occur. I think fallible humans often insist that the life occur the way it is supposed to and when it does not somebody must be blamed. Again I am not against responsibility but I am for realism. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy philosophy teaches that absolutes do not exist. People, machines, and technological systems will occasionally fail. Bad events will happen. Sadly, these things happen. Fallible humans living in an imperfect world will be better adjusted if we give up utopian ideas that complex systems absolutely must be perfect and that all bad events can be eliminated. I do acknowledge that our increasing dependence on technology increases the consequences when these systems fail. However, it is inconsistent with reality and self-defeating to believe that people, machines, and systems will not fail. I certainly wish and want them not to fail, especially when I am a passenger on an airplane, but nevertheless despite all sorts of redundancies in technology and training of the humans who operate it improbable failures will still occur. There is no way of eliminating such things and so we had better accept that despite all our efforts bad things will happen.
We can demand not to have bad events occur but our demands are just beliefs in our heads. They are beliefs that are not consistent with reality. I want to underscore the point that I am not against doing everything possible to reduce the probability of bad outcomes. However, as we strive to reduce the probability that bad outcomes not occur I would advise us to hold onto REBT’s view of life tolerance. We will in all probability never engineer our way to utopia and therefore there will probably always be a need to have the capacity to accept things we do not like. In REBT this is called the elegant philosophical position or the emotional solution. REBT teaches that we are well advised to change what we can change and to accept what we cannot change. People are quick to adopt the first part of this teaching and strive to change what they do not like. Fallible humans tend to loathe changing their rigid beliefs about what cannot be changed. I close by encouraging my reader to not only change what can be changed but accept that sadly, try as we might, bad things will happen. Having the capacity to exercise life tolerance will allow each us to better withstand hardships that will inevitably occur.