by Donald W. Shriver Jr.
""Forgiveness in a political context is an act that joins moral truth, forbearance, empathy and commitment to repair a fractured human relation. Such a combination calls for a collective turning from the past that neither ignores past evil nor excuses it, that neither overlooks justice nor reduces justice to revenge, that insists on the humanity of enemies even in their commission of dehumanizing deeds, and that values the justice that restores political community above the justice that destroys it.
As such a multidimensional human action, forgiveness might be compared to a twisted four-strand cable, which over time intertwines with the enemy's responses to form the double bond of new politics.
No one element in this cable carries the weight of the action; each assumes and depends upon the others. At any one time, one may have greater prominence in the negotiation, and all of them come up for repeated attention as the relationship grows more secure - e. g., forbearance can prompt a start toward confession of wrong, empathy can deepen that confession, as new political ties embody the purpose of the transaction.
A forgiver does not need to dwell indefinitely on the enemy's past crimes unless evidence surfaces that the enemy no longer considers memory of those crimes important. Similarly, the forgiven does not need unending assurance that the other really does forbear, empathize, and intend a new relation, for along the way concrete evidences of all this have accumulated.
So defined, political forgiveness links realism to hope. It aims at delivering the human future from repetitions of the atrocities of the past. Given the scale of politically engineered atrocity in the twentieth century, nothing could be a more practical or more urgent gift to our neighbors of the twenty-first."
From "An Ethic for Enemies - Forgiveness in Politics", Donald W. Shriver Jr. Oxford University Press
|< Prev||Next >|