Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Forgive and Forget?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Forgive and Forget?

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective.

Is it good and right to forgive and forget? Perhaps we could answer both yes and no.

Studying history while I was growing up, I used to wonder why it was necessary to learn about things that were over and in the past. But as I grew up, I came to learn the value of understanding our history, especially as nations, in order to learn from our mistakes and the negative impacts of decisions. Of course, learning about positive and successful actions and their results is helpful, too.

The same could be said for us as individuals. Mistakes made are considered useful if we learn from them and become better citizens, better friends, employees, or relatives.

But what about mistakes or decisions made by others that affect us in a negative or harmful way, as in the case of the harm inflicted by tyrannical leaders? It's sometimes said we should never forget this type of history, in order not to become victims of such behaviors once again. In this way, we could rightly answer no to the above question. We shouldn't forget. Such was the declaration from President Salva Kiir of the newly formed South Sudan, who spoke of the brutality his people endured at the hands of the North and said, "[W]e have to forgive, although we will not forget."

My heart goes out to the people of South Sudan as they strive for a more peaceful and freer life. Their plight moved me to prayer, and I've remembered how often and completely Jesus taught us to forgive. When his disciple Peter asked how many times he should forgive his brother - "till seven times?" - Jesus answered, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven," implying a complete and unceasing forgiveness (Matt. 18:21, 22). I asked myself, is it really possible to completely forgive someone for wrongdoing if I harbor any thought about what they've done, thus holding it to them? Is it possible to forgive in this way without being willing to forget?

I experienced abuse in my life, and although it didn't compare to the violence inflicted on the South Sudanese people, it affected me negatively well into adulthood. …

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