The Art of Forgetting

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Life can be so painful and difficult, all on its own – but we find all sorts of reasons to hurt each other. Life can be so lonely – but we fill our time with judging, condemning and hating each other. Life is so short – and yet, we find it necessary to kill each other.

Century after century, day after day, our crimes continue – crimes against ourselves, against each other, against the earth. But engrossed as we are in the frantic requirements of the rat race, we cannot bear to dwell on this, which is why the art of forgetting has become an essential part of our lives. By forgetting, we become comfortable with our lives and situations. We forget any personal emptiness, we forget the sufferings of others, we forget our unmet responsibilities. This insidious comfort does indeed bring with it a certain kind of happiness. But such happiness, in the midst of pain, cynicism and meaninglessness, is certainly nauseating. And none of the accoutrements of this happiness (money, sexual adventure, social status, and the like) ever quite work: because no matter how physically or emotionally comfortable they make us feel, they can never quite alleviate the discomfiting suspicion of inner nullity, the conscience-pricking fear that there was something we forgot to do.

It would be pointless to dwell indulgently on negativity about the world. A positive attitude can take us further toward solutions. But only if we are aware and informed. We cannot allow a morbid negativity to masquerade as the whole truth, but neither can we blindly or blithely obscure harsh realities. What is required is a deliberate psychological turn from comfortable forgetting to responsible remembering. What is required is a genuine experience of remorse for not being what we ought to be or doing what we ought to do, combined with forgiveness, optimism and hope for a better future.