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Public apologies come easier these days. Forgiveness doesn't.

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In US politics, where forgiveness is rare, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich apologized this week for slamming the Medicare-reform plan of fellow Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. And recently resigned Sen. John Ensign of Nevada apologized for being “arrogant and self-centered” in criticizing other senators caught up in their sex scandals while he was hiding his own.

Even the royals are in the mood.

This week Queen Elizabeth II, in the first visit by a British monarch to Ireland since its independence, made symbolic gestures acknowledging past British oppression and violence against the Irish. She laid a wreath and bowed her head at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, a memorial to those who lost their lives opposing British rule. Actions may speak louder than an apology in this case, as most Irish seem in a mood to forgive.

Even the talk-show queen of evoking apologies from guests, Oprah Winfrey, said this week she was sorry to James Frey, author of “A Million Little Pieces.” Oprah said she should not have lashed out at him for fabricating parts of his memoir. He thanked and hugged her.

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