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To Forgive or Not

When watching a Long Night’s Journey Into Day it is very hard to believe these events actually happened for such a long time. The creation of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission was a strategy that had to be implemented. For the countless lives lost through the struggle, there needed to be accountability for those responsible. We see this similar commission in Death and The Maiden with Gerardo being one of the members of the commission overlooking the previous crimes. Now the question arises, do these commissions help those affected get over the atrocities or only reopen these deep wounds? For many of the mothers and family members in a Long Night’s Journey Into Day, reliving the crimes and meeting with the perpetrators helps with closure. With Amy Biehl’s parents, they go as far as meeting the family of one of their daughters murderers. They mention how now looking back at the whole set of events, and how Amy would have wanted them to continue her work. To continue to assist the movement against apartheid, and the injustice many faced in that period.

Reverend Desmond Tutu brings up a point that I believe carries the best way to look at this whole situation. For him, he mentions how this commission needs to do its due process and look back at these crimes to ensure that this will not happen in the future. This is a similar point brought up in a Death and The Maiden. Paulina tells Gerardo how she has difficulty reliving her past pain whereas Gerardo says this is necessary for her to be able to move on and “live free” as well as for such an administration not to arise in the future. Unfortunately, apartheid was around for over 40 years and there is no possibility of going back to fix what happened. The victims cannot be brought back. What can happen is that they can be remembered, honored, and their stories be told so like Tutu said, such a tragedy will not rise again.

One thought on “To Forgive or Not”

  1. You raise a really interesting point about the significance of *futurity* to the work of the TRC, and then that point gets even more interesting and complicated when you bring in Death and the Maiden – where Gerardo’s focus on the future means he’s not able to grasp what matters for Paulina in the present. There’s a lot to think about here in terms of the different historical scales through which justice can be conceived.


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