Forgive and forget is one of those expressions that seem to automatically leap forth from our mouths when presented with certain situations. It appears to offer words of wisdom, of a gentle way of resolving a problem but I have felt increasingly at unease at its use particularly as it appears to be a knee-jerk response in Ghana.

I suspect that the user of the term is actually either a coward or wishes to appear Jesus-like. A coward because it implies an inability to confront a situation, instead suggesting a turning-away from it, a fear at dealing with an unpleasant problem. Others wish to appear pious, holy, by appearing to humble themselves before other, beneficently granting pardon for another’s wrongdoing. In truth this is little more than an exercising of power and a showing of superiority over another. As such it is hypocrisy and so has little moral value.

I’m always amazed they we are told to forget the wrongdoing of another. Does this mean forget so that we put ourselves at risk in front of this person again? Or forget so that we make the same mistake again? In this act of forgetting can we learn and grow? Surely it is only by remembering that we can move forwards in our life.

The granting of forgiveness is certainly something only the gods can do? How can I excuse the sins of another? The only thing I am capable of is dealing with the wrong that was done to me and finding my own release from the pain and anger. I wonder if this is what people mistake for forgiveness?

As for the wrongdoer they have to deal with their own deeds, do their own soul-searching, allow their conscience to act and then find their own release. I cannot do this for them in an act of forgiveness.

If the wrongdoer comes to me and asks that I forgive them as part of their process I will tell them I cannot do that as it is not within my power. They will have to come to terms with that as well. There are indeed consequences to wronging another, painful ones and the person who thought nothing of me will have to find solace in their own aloneness.