How do we forgive those who don’t want our forgiveness?

One of the readings that stood out to me was the article “The Limits of Remembrance” by David Rieff. This reading did not stand out to me for the right reasons, but that does not disqualify Rieff’s writing, but only shows that my beliefs and ideas are very different than his. Rieff explains that there are costs as well as benefits to remembrance, basically saying that through remembering the tragedy of 9/11 and the people who fell to the terrorist attacks, we are also remembering our hatred and anger toward these terrorists. I don’t feel this would be the case, but at the same time I do not see the problem with being angry at the terrorist group that caused our country this deep pain. The conflict comes about when we discriminate and spread this hatred upon middle eastern people in general, just because they share the same ethnicity or religion as the terrorist groups.

I strongly disagree with the idea of forgetting about the event, as if it never happened. I feel that Rieff doesn’t agree with the fact that the 9/11 tragedy is still an issue in society. His argument focuses on past events where generations who witnessed these events are now dying off, and all we have left are second-hand accounts of events such as Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust. Although a strong and convincing argument, it makes a very obvious point. Yes our memories of 9/11 will eventually be calmed, but is it truly necessary to state this?

The thing that bothered me the most about Rieff’s article, was when he proposed forgiving as a valid option. I believe this option is completely non-existent, especially for people who lost relatives in the tragedy. The terrorists knew what they were doing and planned the attacks to cause harm to our country. When you hear forgive, you usually think that a mistake has taken place, and the person who committed the mistake is asking for forgiveness. For example, someone spills their water on a table and it splashes onto your lap, they say sorry, and you obligatorily forgive them because it was an accident; as opposed to if someone throws their water in your face purposely. The terrorists understood their actions, got their message across, and meant what they did. They are not asking for our forgiveness, so the question has changed into: why forgive those who don’t want our forgiveness?