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About five minutes into my LDS mission, I figured out that I was never going to be the typical missionary. It just wasn't in me.

While still in the foyer of the old mission home on North Temple, I realized that the primary thing I had in common with other missionaries was the color of my shirt.

It wasn't their fault. I'm uncooperative by nature. Also I had to wait a year and undergo a few interviews with a general authority before being allowed to serve.

This means that I had more experience with a certain side of "life" than those who soon would be compelled by conditioned obedience to associate with me either as a companion, fellow district member, or, worse, as a leader.

I was already comfortable with the fallout associated in telling presumptuous authority where to get off. I believed then and still do that unquestioned obedience is something only idiots, dogs and hostages should be proud of.

For example, one night my senior companion and district leader Elder Lekker announced that we were going to knock on doors after 10 p.m. Because it was late, most of the houses were dark, and I just didn't want to; I said no we weren't.

Lekker sternly insisted until I pointed out that he could either obey the mission rule that we stick together, or he could knock doors all by himself because I was going back to the apartment. Then I left. He complained all the way home but it didn't change a thing.

That wasn't the first time I understood that short of killing me, religious authority only had the control over me that I was willing to give it.

Maybe that's why it doesn't bother me much when church leaders today pronounce something I don't agree with or even like. It's OK with me if you want to take and run with it, but when it comes to church I'll be the one in charge of me, thank you very much.

Case in point is the recent holler and bother over an LDS Church leader saying we (Mormons) don't need to apologize for anything in our past.

The outcry was both expected and immediate. Not only were non/ex Mormons upset by it, so were current Mormons. They all pointed out something horrible the LDS Church had done or is doing that merits formal apology.

While I can't say about organizations, including those I belong to, I do believe that most people in our lives deserve some kind of an apology. And virtually all of us need to be better at offering them.

There isn't a human being who's ever been blameless — either through oversight or deliberate intent — when it comes to injuring someone.

I'm one of the worst offenders. I owe every one of my former mission companions (except Lekker) an apology. They probably expected some persecution when accepting a mission call, but they almost certainly hadn't bargained for me.

I also formally (and publicly) apologize to my wife for fooling her into marrying me, an arrangement that substantially reduced the quality of her life.

I could go on and mention current and former neighbors, co-workers, editors, friends, relatives and various government officials. You probably deserve apologies as well.

Then there are those of you who feel an apology is in order for some of the things I've written that offended you.

Well, don't hold your breaths. If you got your feelings hurt reading it, then it's your fault. And like Lekker, you probably had it coming.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or Find his past columns at