Culture: Michael on Forgiveness and Pardon

October 4, 1999


As regards the issue of forgiveness, we have discoursed upon this before, but we are inclined to clarify our meaning more cogently. We have long stated that we feel that forgiveness is an inappropriate act for most people for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that those doing the forgiving assume a stance of moral superiority, and while the people of this society put great credence into forgiveness, we would have to say that from our perspective such forgiveness is in fact condescension. We have long advocated pardon instead: pardon, by its nature, does not obviate the act but does "let off the hook" the offender without negating or diminishing the occasion for pardon, and without putting the pardoner in the morally superior role, thus allowing for the relationship of reciprocity and equality, should the fragments involved choose to continue to deal with one another, for pardon also allows for distancing, which forgiveness does not. In forgiving, an act is diminished and redefined. In pardoning, an act is recognized and ameliorated. We would think that a recognition of these differentiations could prove of interest to those wishing to explore the ramifications of fear and its disguises, in that forgiveness is one of the most seductive forms of fear, while pardon is a product of love.