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Revenge? Forgive? Forget!

“So you don’t approve of getting even — of taking revenge for something that was done to you?”

“Revenge does not alter what was done to you. Neither does forgiveness. Revenge and forgiveness are irrelevant.”

“What can you do?”

“Forget,” said Borges. “That is all you can do. When something bad is done to me, I pretend that it happened a long time ago, to someone else.”

“Does that work?”

“More or less.” He showed his yellow teeth. “Less rather than more.”

Talking about the futility of revenge, he reached and his hands trembled with a new subject, but a related one, the Second World War.

“When I was in Germany just after the war,” he said, “I never heard a word spoken against Hitler. In Berlin, the Germans said to me” — now he spoke in German — “‘Well, what do you think of our ruins?’ The Germans like to be pitied — isn’t that horrible? They showed me their ruins. They wanted me to pity them. But why should I indulge them? I said” — he uttered the sentence in German — “‘I have seen London.'”

Jorge Luis Borges speaking with Paul Theroux
_The Old Patagonian Express_

Revenge has its appeal, but I don’t think it helps. We use the expression “forgive and forget” but the concern is that certain things should not be forgotten. I figure it is better to forget than to have difficulty stuck in your heart. I think I’d say “forgive, if you can, draw a lesson from the memory, and then move on.”

Try to remember the circumstances and what happened, and that you felt a certain pain and whatnot, perhaps with great intensity. The pain itself, the “pain memory” I would leave behind, if you can. We are fools to forget, but we are foolish too to react in the present to pain from the past.

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