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Miroslav Volf, a Croatian theologian, argues that it is vital that individuals remember if they seek to achieve peace and forgiveness. Similarly, Elie Wiesel explains that through his experiences during the Holocaust, justice can only be obtained by rightly remembering the injustices of Auschwitz. In light of this, can humans forgive without forgetting the hurt or the betrayal they have suffered at the hands of someone?

Forgetting is not an easy experience. Forgetting ensures people do not seek justice. Conversely, remembering allows individuals to tell their stories truthfully and hopefully. Remembering responsibly gives enables people to reconcile. Volf (2010) asserts that forgiveness cannot be rightly achieved unless people are truthful about their experiences. Being truthful requires individuals to bear witness. One the same note, anyone who has experienced injustice, no matter how trivial is, cannot easily forget.

As much as ‘forgive and forget’ is a common preaching in today’s life, forgiving does not necessarily require one to forget the atrocities done to them. Forgiveness merely means forgetting the rage and the hurt caused by the atrocity (Volf, 2010). The importance of remembering is that every time people share their experiences, it prevents the reoccurrence of the same crime.

As Volf (2010) quipped, we are our human best when we give and forgive. People should find it in themselves through their faith and God’s grace to forgive even when forgiving seems like a futile endeavor. Wiesel paradoxically tries to strike a balance of forgiveness and forgetting. He argues that he will not forget nor forgive, but through his experiences, he will not let what he experienced justify contemporary recrimination (as cited in Volf, 2010).[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

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Reply 1
Hello. This was an interesting prompt read. It gave us the opportunity to critically analyze the concepts of forgiving and forgetting and how they are related. Volf (2010) argues that true forgiveness must entail forgetting of past hurts and pain. He refers to it as redemption from the past. Basically, Volf (2010) implies that we have to forget for us to forgive. Additionally, forgiveness cannot occur without forgetting atrocities from the past. As much as forgiveness requires that people redeem themselves from past unfavorable experiences, we should also forget pains and hurts from the past for us to forgive. Ricoeur (2009) confirms that when we hold on to those painful experiences from the past, we will always get negative feelings of anger and sadness which in turn rekindle the desire to seek revenge.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Reply 2
Hello. Thank you for the discussion post. It was insightful and enabled me to look at forgiving and forgetting from a different perspective. In your post, you argued that we can forgive without forgetting. Wiesel advanced this argument by stating that justice without memory is unjust and false (as cited in Volf, 2010). Inasmuch as we would like to forgive people, we cannot force ourselves to forget what they did. Forgetting is not something we do by choice; it is a process that takes time. Getting memories off our head is not easy. What we should strive to do is forgiving without necessarily striving to forget. Ricoeur (2009) observes that forgetting occurs at its own time and we cannot force it. However, there is a lot we can do to hasten the forgetting process. Spending time with the offender and trying to build trust with them goes a long way in hastening forgetting. The claim that forgiveness only occurs after forgetting is thus fallacious; we can forgive without forgetting. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Ricoeur, P. (2009). Memory, history, forgetting. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Volf, M. (2010). Exclusion & embrace: A theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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