Re: [xmca] Forgiveness

From: Carol Macdonald (
Date: Tue Oct 24 2006 - 05:09:03 PDT

Hi Andy
I would just like to respond to your remarks about the speaker on South
Africa. People were astonshed that we constituted a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission so soon after the end of Apartheid. (Austria took
40 years to do the same.) The director was Bishop Tutu, who kept the doors
eopn between people during the bad years. He had to listen to the most
terrible stories (along with the committee), and someotimes he couldn't bear
it and cried and cried. Needless to say, most of the victims cried a great
deal. Then there were the perpetrators some of whom came forward, and what
they had done was also terrible. I reckon we would have needed a decade to
get through all the hurt, but there was a cut off date, and several volumes
were developed and presented to Mandela.

The new government did not address violence and criminality in the
townships, because they feared it would make them unpopular, and as a result
we have this terrible crime--800 murders reported in Johannesburg last
year and many thousands of violent break-ins, many car hijacks. So we live
with a different fear now. I have been the object of crime 5 times in the
last 12 years (5 times too many).

I cannot begin to tell you though of the capacity of African people to
forgive. I think that is why apartheid lasted so long. I know in trauma
counselling you have to wait 3 days for the adrenaline to calm down a bit
(but it is still there for ages), but we are talking here about people
talking about political crimes perpetrated up to a decade ago. It wasn't
about "What happened to you last week". This T&R Commission was cathartic
for the whole nation, and I felt we were brave to mount it at all.

That is my tuppence worth for someone who lived through apartheid and


On 10/23/06, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> A recent conference near Melbourne held by the Australia Society for
> Continental Philsoophy (mostly critical theorists) on "Trauma" dealt with
> forgiveness in a myriad of ways. Two of the speakers made points which I
> recall as I write:
> Agnes Heller spoke about shame, and the impossibility of a social movement
> built on shame. This relates of course to the inverse side, that of the
> one
> who needs forgiveness.
> Philipa Rothfield spoke on the oppressive effect of pressure on victims to
> forgive. She cited experiences in South Africa where the reconciliation
> process put great pressure on people to forgive. She made the point that
> not only were many not ready to forgive, but perhaps rightly so, since
> forgiveness and reconciliation could act as a cover for avoiding dealing
> with the real underlying problems, and in fact their continuation in new
> conditions.
> There were of course scores of presentations taking a number of different
> angles. These two I particularly remember.
> Andy
> At 09:06 PM 22/10/2006 -0700, you wrote:
> >OK-- So here is another topic. Any help out there greatly appreciated.
> >
> >In my household the topic of forgiveness is a burning issue. There are a
> lot
> >of sources.
> >
> >First, we have had a visit from a friend who has had a stroke and whose
> >husband has left her
> >and she is in deep pain.
> >
> >Second, we have been reading about the Amish parents in Pennsylvania who
> put
> >aside, so far as
> >we can tell, the unbelievable anger and pain they must have experienced,
> and
> >have forgiven the man
> >who killed their children, welcomed his wife into their community, and
> >(again, so far as we can tell,
> >for-given him his unforgivable (it would seem) trespasses.
> >
> >Third, there is fiction brewing locallly that involves a mother and
> daughter
> >who are in conflict where the
> >mother has transgressed the law seriously and the daughter is living with
> >the consequences.
> >
> >So what does anyone on this amazing list of people have to counsel us
> about
> >forgiveness, No eye for
> >a tooth. What makes it possible? Legitimate? Forgivable, to forgive
> someone
> >for causing unspeakable
> >pain?
> >
> >This is all at the more or less personal/interpersonal level. I am well
> >aware that there are macro versions of these
> >questions that deserve all the attention we can give them, but up close
> and
> >personal. --When is forgiveness possible
> >and forgivable?
> >
> >Help please
> >mike
> >_______________________________________________
> >xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
> identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651
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