Can’t or Won’t?

“I am sorry, I wasn’t able to come”

This is one of the most insidious sentences in the English language. I wasn’t able to come, of course, usually means – I WAS able to come but I decided to do something else instead. The person tells a bare faced lie, suggesting they were physically held back from coming by forced beyond their control. With the words ‘not able’ or ‘couldn’t’ or ‘can’t they’d demand sympathy. The excuse cannot be challenged because it involves the fact (or lie) that I really was physically unable to come. Bollox. Of course they were able. Yet by hiding behind unable they claim the territory of disability, they desert responsibility for their decision not to meet a responsibility. They would take such responsibility of they said. “I know you expected me but I decided not to come because…” This might create an argument, the need for justification, But at least e enter the realms of honesty and truth.




“I couldn’t”
“I was unable”
“I can’t”
If it really means
“I didn’t”
“I was able but decided something else was more important”
“I could but decided not to.”
The latter three statements, if true, require the person to take responsibility for past, present and future actions:
“I won’t be coming because…”

We have built friendships and even organizations based on the deception of ‘can’t’. Where can’t means can’t it relates to genuine forces that have prevented commitment. But where can’t means won’t, won’t refers to an act of will, a decision that ought to be responsible and ‘lived with’. Only then can we hope to have friendships and organisations based on genuine honesty and truth

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