It's Never Too Late: Amends and Second Chances in Foreign Affairs

It's Never Too Late
Amends and Second Chances in Foreign Affairs
Written by Kuramia

Recently I finished the television series The Good Place, a show that ultimately dealt with philosophical themes, namely that all people contain within them the capability to be their best selves if only given the resources to do so. After finishing it, I considered the implications it presented: the importance of second chances when someone arrives at a point in which they want to grow from their mistakes.

While the application of these lessons are meant for the real world, there is value in exploring how they can be applied to Nation States foreign affairs. Foreign affairs is the act of regions reaching out to one another to find a common ground, whether it be militarily, culturally, or any of the internal workings the two might share viewpoints on. Despite our best intentions, situations and people arise who seek to undermine those relationships. Though sometimes brief and always heated, these situations and people can erode and break down relations. Despite that, The Good Place, and philosophy in general, encourages us to provide forgiveness as a moral obligation.

Having said that, I want to emphasize a key point: the other person must approach, of their own volition, with the will to change either the situation or themselves. Issues, such as toxic relationships or repeated offenses, can arise when we, with the best of intentions, take it upon ourselves to fix things. In an article titled "Must You Forgive?" Jeanne Safer, writing for Psychology Today, comments:

[not forgiving] is not an avoidance of forgiveness or a retreat into paranoia, but a legitimate action in itself, with its own progression, motivation and justification. There are many circumstances in which it is the proper and most emotionally authentic course of action.​

Not everyone has the self-awareness to understand their own fault in events, and some bad players seek only to manipulate and damage those around them simply to uplift themselves. A second chance should be reached with sincerity from the person who did the wrongdoing, and should not be a harmful experience for the person attempting to give that chance.

Vanessa Torre in the article "Not Everyone Should Get a Second Chance" states that "Getting a second chance is a privilege, not a right. No one should get that granted automatically." A person who takes responsibility for their actions and their consequences is a person who has a chance of learning inner reflection and the sympathy and compassion, if not empathy, to care that their actions affect others. Without that, it can be dangerous to yourself and your region to be constantly put into a position where damage can be wrought again and again. As with all things, have some trusted people you can discuss these things with. They may see patterns you don't.

As for second chances themselves, there are many benefits to giving them. Before I cover that though, I want to remind you all of your first foray into Nation States, specifically foreign affairs if you had that experience. If you haven't started that journey yet, I want to offer some encouraging words: everyone makes mistakes. Especially given the age-group of those players in Nation States and the inexperience in diplomacy and forming lasting relationships aimed toward long-term goals for a community, every one of us involved in foreign affairs can tell a story of at least one mistake we have made.

Like riding a bike, we all wobble around shakily when we are first learning, and there's only so much advisors, stories of previous events, and regional guides can assist in navigating how to act and react. At some point, something is going to blow up. Since we've all been here, most of us are capable of the empathy necessary to relate to what someone who makes a mistake is going through. When I stated earlier that philosophy imparts to us a moral imperative to give second chances, it's the fact that we've all experienced this that I refer to. Coming into a second chance with awareness of what needs to be addressed and how best to make sure recompense is provided has many more benefits than it does dangers in most situations.

I will admit, many times I find it difficult to give that second chance. In fact, if I were to point to someone I use as my moral compass when it comes to second chances, I'd point to the founder of Europeia, HEM. I'm sure those who know him will agree that HEM is a proponent of giving second chances. In fact, he's fought me after mistakes I've made, forcing me to take responsibility for my actions and then giving me a second chance. Where once he and I were considered political opponents, now I can't imagine a time I wouldn't back him on a project he has, and a time he wouldn't offer advice and frank criticism when I need it. If you're aware of people hesitant to give second chances and those willing to give them, make sure you connect with them. They can offer that valuable insight that will help you in creating a sort of risk-benefit analysis of the situation.

And what are we looking for to ensure someone is giving us a sincere apology? In today's age of social media, we've seen tons of mistakes, tons of apologies, and tons of analysis on these apologies. Beverly Engle in the article "The Power of Apology" lists the three parts of an apology:

Regret : statement of regret for having caused the hurt or damage​
Responsibility : an acceptance of responsibility for your actions​
Remedy : a statement of willingness to remedy the situation​

What this boils down to is saying what you're sorry for, admitting you caused the consequences of your actions, and also stating how you're going to correct things moving forward. An additional item that Marisa Mauro in an article titled "The Art of Second Chances: On Forgiving, Forgetting and Letting Go" adds is "[...]the best predictor of future behavior is past behaviors". It's important to ask yourself "[...]is behavior which must be forgiven an aberration, a continuance of increasingly poor actions, or more obviously a pattern to be expected?" If it's become a pattern, the only way towards reparations comes from an acknowledgement of that pattern and what steps will be taken to break it.

Taking responsibility means that the one apologizing is aware of the effects of what they did, why the effects were harmful, and what exactly they did that caused those harmful effects. Mauro explains it's good to question "Do they accept blame and have a reasonably objective view of themselves, or do they blame others?" Here, the most difficult part is having an objective view. It's always hard to be introspective without excuses, and some people, admittedly, are not equipped to analyze their actions and the reasons behind them without adding justifications. If someone is struggling to understand what they've done wrong, it's okay to explain it. There are certain people, though, that either will not understand or may even refuse to.

In my experience, the last point is the one most people get stuck on. In my life, I work with a problem and solution mindset. I see problems, and I work toward a solution to those problems. For most situations, this works for me. For a sincere apology and work towards reconciliation, this type of mindset is perfect. If you can't immediately figure out what will work as a remedy, ask! It's okay to reach out to the one who is wronged and ask them what will make it better. And if you're wronged, it's also okay to not know what will help. Aaron Lazare in "Go Ahead, Say You're Sorry" has examples for how time can impact an apology:

For a minor offense such as interrupting someone during a presentation or accidentally spilling a drink all over a friend's suit, if you don't apologize right away, the offense becomes personal and grows in magnitude. For a serious offense, such as a betrayal of trust or public humiliation, an immediate apology misses the mark. It demeans the event.​

Some things can only be helped by time, and the further you are from the event that happened, the less emotions can cloud things.

So now comes the part where I discuss the benefits of second chances. I'll start with the easy ones that can be applied to real life as well. First, apologizing and accepting an apology makes you feel good. Now this may seem a selfish benefit, but I would argue if you can do something that makes you feel good with no harm to yourself or others, that isn't selfish. That's self-care.

The other benefits can include healing your emotional wounds, ridding ourselves of a perceived threat, giving us the ability to let go of harmful anger, and increasing our ability to empathize with others. Beverly Engel in "The Power of Apology" writes that the benefits of accepting apologies goes beyond the emotional, affirming that "An apology actually affects the bodily functions of the person receiving it—blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and breathing becomes steadier." In analyzing whether it's worth it to give someone a second chance, there's no denying that the emotional and physical benefits should be weighed.

Of course, what's most important is what benefits it gives to foreign affairs in Nation States. When a prominent person from a region, or even a region themselves, makes a mistake and is called out for it, there is a chance that they can realize their wrong and come to the Nation States community to ask for forgiveness. Giving a second chance for honest mistakes in the Nation States community has a direct impact on that community because of one thing: potential. This person or region always has the potential to enrich and innovate inside our community. If all it requires is a second chance, in most cases, that potential benefit will outweigh the risk.

Our community is made up of all of us. Without the group working together toward agreed upon goals, even if some of those are in opposition, we would be unable to keep people engaged and the community growing. When someone makes a mistake, asks for a second chance, and is given that chance to correct themselves, it can only strengthen the community as a whole. Foreign affairs is a part Nation States because we are aware that being insular is not an option and invites stagnation.

Lazare illustrates the need for us to care about what's happening outside our own circles by saying "Ultimately we all share the same air, oceans, and world economy. We are all upwind, downstream, over the mountains, or through the woods from one another." In the same fashion, we are all connected to this game. Whether we choose to take part in gameplay or not, at some point something someone else or a region does is going to affect you or your region. It only behooves us to be aware of the basics or have ties to someone trusted with the knowledge of foreign affairs so that someone else's mistake doesn't also become ours. When all of us work together for the Nation States community and to make it a thriving community, we all benefit.

In closing, I wish to circle back to our moral imperative to help those who genuinely reach out to us after making a mistake. If we have the resources, such as energy and time, to give to someone else who wants to become better, who are we to deny them that? The Good Place really touched me with its message of hope and empathy towards others, and I leave you all with the words of Michael, a lead character from the show:

I hope you take these thoughts with you on your foreign affairs experience, or that this encourages you to check out foreign affairs. It's more than just sharing gossip, herding cats, and putting out fires. It can encompass an entire human experience, and lead to enriching personal growth.

Works Cited
Engle, Beverly. “The Power of Apology.” Psychology Today, 1 July 2016, <>.

Lazare, Aaron. “Go Ahead, Say You’re Sorry.” Psychology Today, 9 June 2016, <>.

Mauro, Marisa. “The Art of Second Chances: On Forgiving, Forgetting and Letting Go.” Psychology Today, 10 Jan. 2010, <>.

Safer, Jeanne. “Must You Forgive?” Psychology Today, 1 July 1999, <>.

Torre, Vanessa. “Not Everyone Should Get a Second Chance.” Medium, 22 Jan. 2020, <>.

*First published for NSGE


we want YOU to be a dee gee too
Deputy Minister
This was an awesome article Kuramia!! I loved how you incorporated both real life articles and papers along with NationStates examples, this is really excellently written!


Tik tok on the clock or whatever
I read this once at NSGE and now again, I think the message you're sending is fantastic and the way you even went and cited sources for it demonstrates the effort you put into this. It's truly fantastic, Kura, and I think reiterating the fact that people make mistakes, and there are second chances, really is important. Thank you so much for this!!


Forum Administrator
Honoured Citizen
Great article! We have several great examples of successful second chances among our citizenry. I'm not going to name names, but you know who you are :)


Nissan: electric cars for electric drivers
Forum Administrator
Supreme Chancellor
Honoured Citizen
Wow, this was great. Not just for the NationStates side of things, though; I'm already thinking about how I should apply it in my own life.


⛄ I'm walking in the air ... ❄
Vice Chancellor
Thank you for this Kura, it was an amazing read and gave me a lot of food for thought!!!


Nissan: electric cars for electric drivers
Forum Administrator
Supreme Chancellor
Honoured Citizen


Never Honorable, sometimes Right
I have a rather profound memory from my youth, around the 6th grade, I believe. I had hurt my best friend and the teacher made me apologize. Given my prior history of angry outbursts, I refused to apologize because "I didn't deserve forgiveness."

Instead of doubling down, my teacher changed tactics and told me something I still remember vividly. He simply said "nobody deserves forgiveness, it is given. It is not rewarded, it is not owed, and it is not deserved. To forgive truly and fully is the most human thing a person can do. Choosing to give when something was taken. You can earn forgiveness, but it will never be deserved."

Stuck with me when, in the 11th grade, I was on the receiving end of an angry outburst from a friend of mine who "didn't deserve forgiveness." I think the important thing is that forgiveness can both be given and earned. Some people hold on to their anger for far too long and it prevents them from being able to give forgiveness, but those who need forgiveness can still earn it.

The friends I hurt are long gone. They cannot give me the forgiveness that I never had the strength to ask for. I can earn it though.

Good thing I've never done anything in Europeia that needs forgiving :D


Token Brony of Europeia
The fact that I read this right as I am getting ready to approach an old friend that split with me a little while back as well as a current friend who currently isn't getting along with me is... Pretty crazy timing. Definitely giving me more to think about.


Nissan: electric cars for electric drivers
Forum Administrator
Supreme Chancellor
Honoured Citizen
The fact that I read this right as I am getting ready to approach an old friend that split with me a little while back as well as a current friend who currently isn't getting along with me is... Pretty crazy timing. Definitely giving me more to think about.
Are you me? Honestly lol.