Once again, we return (as friends) to M. Volf’s book, The End of Memory. His concern is how to remember wrongdoing and wrongdoers truthfully. His topic haunts those who have suffered, and those of us committed to loving our neighbors need to learn how significant memory of suffering is.
It is fundamentally important,Volf says, for those who have suffered to remember truthfully — in fact, if one does not remember truthfully, one does not remember at all. Even if our memories never grasp the whole of truth, they can remember truthfully.
But those who suffer wrong experience so much pain that memory is both painful and the necessary door through which one must walk if one wants to heal. And those of you who have suffered wrongs know the painful reality of memory.
And Volf draws us into eschatology: someday memory will morph into love of neighbor. This understanding of the future shapes how we need to look at memory.
Volf makes this arresting observation: “We seem to be faced with the impossibility of truthfully remembering precisely that which is most important to remember truthfully: suffered wrongs” (61).
There is a moral obligation to remember truthfully. Why?
For the sake of justice.
For the sake of reconciliation.
There is danger in truthful memory. How so?
If the one remembering thinks he or she has total control of truth.
If the one remembering thinks truth is uncontrollable and that any memory is as good as any other.