Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Forgive & Forget

I've never been all that comfortable with the command-like phrase, "Forgive and forget."

While it made perfect sense, to me, that sometimes we choose to forgive those who have trespassed against us, I saw no reason why we would choose to forget said trespass. Deliberately.

If anything, I'd think one would be better-off letting go of the emotional attachment to past transgressions while retaining the lessons learned. At least we can gain valuable knowledge or wisdom in exchange for the cost of our health, dignity, or whatever.

Choosing to forget seemed like choosing to make all that pain into something suffered in-vain.

But maybe I'm missing something.

Now I'm wondering if "Forgive and forget" has more to do with forgiving the transgression AND relocating its memory to the back of your mind. After all, I've gotta wonder if it's really forgiveness if you're constantly thinking about the thing... and constantly bringing it up. Sounds a lot like a wound that never gets to fully close or heal.

Honestly, I can understand bringing up things from the past because you think they're relevant to things of the present. That sounds perfectly reasonable, to me.

An example of a less reasonable situation is a recent experience I had with an instructor who thought I was lying about having trouble with the university's computer system - despite the fact that I'd given him the name and phone number of the computer department person who told me (my adviser, actually) about this particular technical issue.

This instructor openly doubted my "story," but was willing to give me an extension on the assignment. Fair enough, I thought.

But when I went to see him, recently, to ask for help with a different assignment, he reiterated his doubts about my honesty. I calmly reminded him of the very valid reasons why some students might not have experienced the same technical difficulty.

His response was to say that it's all a moot point, anyway, since he gave me an extension on the assignment. It was as if I'd brought the issue up out-of-the-blue when he was the one who keeps resurrecting it like one of George Romero's zombies.

"I hear you saying that it's a moot issue, but I also hear you telling me ... reminding me... that you 'doubt my story.'"

He dropped it, then, but I still felt like my reputation was tarnished and would remain so no matter how much I shined... and no matter how often certain people told me not to worry about it.

Afterward, I couldn't help thinking about this interpretation of "Forgive and forget" and why "forgetting" by way of a little deliberate, temporary amnesia might be just what the doctor ordered.

In fact, I wonder if we have to (temporarily) forget so that we're able to forgive... and them move on.

I dunno. Just something I was thinking about.


B. Good said...

Yeah, its an interesting paradox. Forgiving and forgetting is much easier said than done. But I think you can retain lessens learned without holding a grudge (or whatever) towards the transgression and the transgressor. Like I said, its easier said than done, but it is possible, and it is worth it (from a spiritual point of view, anyway).

Douglas said...

Yes; I always thought that the Forget part was more about not dwelling on things and to let it be in the past; not to literally erase it from your memory (which I'm not even sure is possible).

West said...

Damn my literalist soul!