The really, truly great Ian McEwan has written several books and (nearly) countless articles and other pieces over the last several decades. I've read a few of them and enjoyed them all ("Black Dogs") was a wee pitchy for me. My FAVORITE of his books is "Atonement."
Atonement, while twisty-turny (as most McEwan work is), tells the story of a day in 1935 when a little girl, tired of being overshadowed by her older sister, relays that she's seen her sister be assaulted by the son of the family's housekeeper/cook/etc. I don't want to give it away (too much) but it suffices to say that everyone loses and everyone has to pay for what they've done (or not) in the years that follow.
Which brings me to the point of today . . . Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur - the Jewish day of atonement. It completes the High Holy Days and the Days of Awe and, in the spirit of the "best for last" it is the highest/most important day of the Jewish year but it is also the most important day of last several (if not ALL) years and the most important day of the coming (if not EVERY) year. It is the day that we, observant Jews stand before G-d and say "Hey. We're here. We're wicked sorry. We're going to try and be better in following your rules . . . chief among them to 'Do onto others -'. We're really appreciative that you are - seemingly - going to give us another year to do better."
We also spend the day(s) leading up to and including Yom Kippur thinking about us and our relationships and our community and how we have failed or honored them and how we can do better.
And we do this in honest intent (or it is another sin) and we do this with open hearts and embarrassed demeanors. I'm going to spend most of today in the sanctuary. I'll not have anything to eat or drink. I'll abstain from leather shoes. I'll do all this with ease and humility. I'm one of millions of Jews that will spend the day this way. It is the least we can do - it is an easy, easy way to atone.