Forgive and Forget: What Does It Mean? Is It Dangerous?
Here is a syllogism for you:
Premise #1: To forget is to not remember in the sense of moving on and not letting the emotional effects of injustices bother us any more.
Premise #2: To forgive is to forget.
Conclusion: Therefore, when we forgive, we do not remember what happened to us, making us vulnerable to continued injustice.
When we fail to remember what happened to us, this can be dangerous because we might let others again take advantage of us.
Because forgiveness might hasten our not remembering, forgiveness is dangerous.
What is wrong with the above argument?
In logic, we have just committed the fallacy of equivocation. By this we mean that there are two very different meanings of at least one word in the argument. The first use of the term “forget” in Premise #1 equates to “moving on” or “putting the injustice behind us.”
The second use of the term “forget” in the Conclusion of the syllogism equates to a kind of amnesia, a blotting out of what happened rather than a moving on from what happened.
Yes, when we forgive we forget (meaning #1) in that we move on.
No, when we forgive we do not forget (meaning #2) in that we can no longer remember anything of what happened, making us vulnerable to another’s continued injustice.
To forgive is to forget in a certain meaning of that term and given that meaning, to forgive is not dangerous, at least not in the sense of “dangerous” meant here.