Sunday, October 15, 2006

transformations that matter

Jacques Derrida, a philosopher I have studied, writes on forgiveness within the context of politics and international relations, or perhaps misrelation. All the switches in my brain turn off the second he mentions “politics” but what he says about forgiveness is noteworthy and applicable universally.

Whenever and wherever there is a wrong done, a period of mourning is necessary. Derrida calls it the work of mourning. Calling it the “work of mourning” indicates that it has a purpose and an appropriate end to which it works toward. Additionally, the memory continues. The memory then can inspire a prophetic freedom or a doom filled bondage. The memory of wrongs done to my person yesterday can cripple me for life if I nurse them forever—this is not true mourning. However, prophetically speaking life into the darkness of yesterday, transforms the memory, taking the worst of evils, turning it into a victorious expression of love and life.

...yet returning to forgiveness. Forgiveness is not possible—pardon cannot be granted unless the unpardonable is committed and the unforgivable act is wielded upon a soul. Derrida calls anything pardonable given pardon a mere transaction, thus not true forgiveness. Forgiveness can only be performed on the unforgivable. “It is not and should not be normal, normative, normalizing. It should remain exceptional and extraordinary, in the face of the impossible: as if it interrupted the ordinary course of historical temporality.” This is the paradox that transforms the world from a space of a bazzilion wrongs passed on into a measure of wrongs turning all wrongs into their prophetic victorious destiny.

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