Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Permission or forgiveness; not both

Recently, a friend proposed a move in our online game. I advised against it as I feared revenge or retaliation. My friend said (s)he would ask for permission. That permission was denied. Much to my surprise, my friend made that move anyway. Now, (s)he is seeking for forgiveness following the consequences.

My 2019 blog, It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission, included this (revised) phrase:

  • Permission is taking 100% risk and giving accountability over intentions before making a move;
  • Forgiveness is taking <50% risk and giving accountability after having made that move.

The above is probably the reason why politicians almost never ask for our permission: too risky (eg, Brexit). Politicians are experts in asking for our forgiveness (eg, “deeply regret” or “deeply sorry”). They are right in expecting that we will have forgotten their transgressions in the next elections.

It may take decades – if ever – before a British PM will say sorry over the Brexit consequences. Nevertheless, some actions do reveal the magnitude of the Brexit stupidity: a new Scottish independence referendum may now need a 60% “yes” threshold before it can take place (eg, Guardian, 4 September 2022).

If the 2016 Brexit referendum would have required a 60% Leave threshold, Brexit would not have happened. That crucial referendum neither required a minimum voting turnout, nor a minimum difference between Leave and Remain (eg, >5%). The ultimate difference was only 3,79%: 51.89% Leave.

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine did not happen following prior parliamentary permission. However, any war needs the element of surprise. Moreover, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is neither an invasion nor a war – albeit in their view only. I doubt Russia will forgive Putin for his failure in Ukraine (eg, DW).

Some relevant quotes:

  • “Where there is no repentance, forgiveness is only permission by another name.” Gene Wolfe
  • In China, much of life involves skirting regulations, and one of the basic truths is that forgiveness comes easier than permission. Peter Hessler
  • Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later. Seth Godin
  • We have a saying, where I come from: Power requires neither permission nor forgiveness. Ann Leckie
  • It may be easier to get forgiveness than permission, but trust is harder to get back than both. Ingrid Weir
  • A policy of moving out and doing it, and asking forgiveness afterward, is much better than a policy of asking permission and having it denied. Richard Preston

Forgiveness and Permission (2003) by Rodney Atkins
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album

It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission
So why wait when you know what I’m missing
We could keep on keeping our distance
Spend our whole lives wishing when it’s
Easier to get forgiveness than permission

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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