🎧 Forgetting, not memory, moves us forward (RN Future Tense)

Listened Forgetting, not memory, moves us forward from ABC Radio National

Forgetting is the only safe response to the world’s problems, from a geopolitical perspective, according to author and journalist David Rieff. And forgetting is also a good thing in your personal life, say scientists. It moves us forward.

Antony Funnell explores the importance of forgetting when it comes to memory. This includes finding balance between the mechanism of memory with forgetting. For example, PTSD is caused when emotional forgetting does not occur. In such situations, we have too many memories we need to let go of. One of the issues is One of the challenges is that fearful/bad memories are often prioritised. “Whiteness does not show up on the page” With this in mind, Alzheimer’s may actually be a lifestyle disease caused when our life is reduced to a small amount of choices where everything is forgotten. In this situation, rather than remembering things, the answer maybe adding more to life that can be forgotten.

Forgetting is also important on a communal level. Amnesty derives from the word to forget.

Borrowed from Latin amnēstia, borrowed from Greek amnēstía “forgetfulness, oblivion, deliberate overlooking of past offenses”

There are times when we all need to forget, rather than rubbing raw historical wounds. Communal forgetting is public silence on aspects that different people may not agree about. This is something explored by David Rieff.

David Rieff, an independent writer who has reported on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, insists that things are not so simple. He poses hard questions about whether remembrance ever truly has, or indeed ever could, “inoculate” the present against repeating the crimes of the past. He argues that rubbing raw historical wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed by outside forces—neither remedies injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he is right, then historical memory is not a moral imperative but rather a moral option—sometimes called for, sometimes not. Collective remembrance can be toxic. Sometimes, Rieff concludes, it may be more moral to forget.

What was interesting was the discussion of importance of having social links to aid with forgetting when it comes to cases of PTSD. This is one of the issues with COVID and lockdowns.

This discussion also had me thinking about wider discussions associated with memory and remembering. In particular, the place of technology and social media and the right to be forgotten. When it comes to big data, the focus is on remembering everything. What is the place for forgetting in this situation?

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