Roxanna with others. Wiesel has a constant internal

Roxanna Diaz                                                                                                                                           
Dr. Van Zandt                                                                                                      
                              English 01HC                                                                                                                                 
29 January 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                           Forgiveness                                                                            What does it mean to forgive? The
concept of forgiveness is one that holds many different interpretations based
on those defining it. Forgiveness contains a much deeper connotation than the
surface meaning of stopping all previous resentment towards those who have
committed a wrongdoing. I believe that forgiveness is not as simple as society
views it, but rather a physical, emotional, and mental process that contributes
towards healing. In addition to this, being able to view instances through an
altruistic and empathetic lens in order to gain a deeper understanding. Through
psychology and personal recollection, forgiveness is portrayed through varying
methods, demonstrating the variety of interpretations that exist.

            Throughout Elie Wiesel’s literary work, Night, his character development is made
apparent as he struggles with forgiveness within himself, as well as with
others. Wiesel has a constant internal battle as to what he morally should do,
and what he consciously desires to do. Despite his admittance of losing faith,
it is still made visible as his morals dictated much of what he did in order to
survive, as well as what he did to prolong his father’s survival throughout
life in concentration camps. This can be seen through the quote, which states,
“Yet at the same time a thought crept into my mind: If only I didn’t find him!
If only I were relieved of this responsibility, I could use all my strength to
fight for my own survival, to take care of myself… Instantly, I felt ashamed,
ashamed of myself forever.” (Wiesel 106). One of Wiesel’s biggest hinderances
was his own father; As Wiesel risked everything to shelter and protect him from
the dangers of the camps, it was made apparent that this took a toll on him
subconsciously, later dreading any efforts made to safeguard his father.
Furthermore, this same mentality fueled the internal dilemma that he carries
with him throughout his life of being able to forgive not only himself, but his
father as well, for the tragic end to his life. Beyond the realm of Night, Wiesel’s philosophy of
forgiveness is one of a reclusive nature, essentially believing that one’s
purpose is not to forgive, but rather the duty of God to forgive. Additionally,
believing that the evil one has done to another human, is one that is out of God’s
jurisdiction, putting the power of forgiveness in the hand of the victim. This
ideology embodies the power in faith, as well as relying on a higher being to
contribute towards healing and closure.

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 Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor discusses her
relationship with forgiveness and how she survived, through Buzzfeed’s video, “I
Survived the Holocaust Twin Experiments.” Throughout this video, Kor discusses
her life in the concentration camps as her and her twin sister were a part of
the infamous Dr. Mengele twin experiments.  During the duration of this video, she
describes all the brutal and traumatic events she experienced as part of these
twisted experiments, ranging from being naked for hours on end while multiple
doctors measured her and her sister, to being injected with various unknown
concoctions that would push her closer to the brink of death every day. As she
proceeded to tell her story, she began discussing the concept of forgiveness,
not only with a Nazi doctor who survived, but with the biggest perpetrator of
them all, Dr. Mengele, as well. I deeply resonated with her ideology of having
the power to forgive as well as the concept that no one could take away nor
give that power to her. When describing her personal benefits of having the
power to forgive those who have harmed her, she includes words such as
“self-healing, self-liberation, and self-empowerment.” Her closing remarks
deliver an impactful message as she states “We cannot change what happened,
that is the tragic part, but we can change how we relate to it.” (“I Survived
the Holocaust Twin Experiments”). In contrast to Wiesel’s perspective of
forgiveness, Kor demonstrates a simpler notion of how forgiveness lies within
the victim, rather than with a higher being, and the power that forgiveness
holds over the assaulters. Kor holds a powerful stance on how forgiveness is
not meant to provide relief for the offender. Demonstrating a sign of
empowerment and maturity, she confronts the scenario and is willing to grow
from it while not letting such a horrendous event define who she is as an
individual.

            Much of society views the act of forgiving as something
of a moral issue, but fail to realize that it also contains psychological
benefits as well. Suppressing these emotions and thoughts of resentment and
anger are detrimental to the state of mind. Through various studies reported by
the American Psychological Association, it has been proven that allowing
oneself the opportunity to forgive can have a multitude of benefits such as
reduced anxiety as well as other psychiatric disorders. As humans, we affiliate
anger and harm as power. We believe forgiveness is associated with succumbing
to those who have wronged us. Breakthroughs in science have proven that
disregarding these feelings can do more damage than foreseen, which can be seen
through various studies such as that by Dr. Yoichi Chida, which states “Yoichi
Chida, MD, PhD, found that anger and hostility are linked to a higher risk of
heart disease, and poorer outcomes for people with existing heart disease” (“Forgiveness
can improve mental and physical health”). As humans, experiencing trauma and
its remains in our brain is essential for survival, as conveyed by Richard
McNally in his book, Remembering Trauma. McNally
states “Our ancestors who remembered life-threatening situations they had
survived would have been more likely to avoid similar dangers in the future
than those who failed to remember them. Indeed, what is difficult to imagine is
how something as maladaptive as a mechanism for repressing, dissociating, or
otherwise forgetting trauma could possibly have evolved throughout the course
of natural history.” (McNally 62). In correlation with the benefits of learning
to forgive, as well as remembering trauma, this challenges the speculation that
forgiveness simply means to forget and move on. Despite being able to
understand the circumstances one faces and having the ability to cope with it,
traumatic events still remain a part of the individual. In agreeance to Kor’s
philosophy of forgiveness, it is unfortunate that tragic events cannot be terminated
from our memories, yet, these same tragic events have the power to motivate one
to grow and heal as an individual. In order to survive, forgiveness is
essential, but in order to forgive, we must remember our experiences.

            Forgiveness is a concept that we learn at a young age, but
is forgiveness really that simple of a concept as we grow older? Most would
identify forgiveness as the idea of letting go of actions in the past and
moving on, or no longer feeling resentment or anger towards those that have
caused harm. I believe that these definitions do not do justice to the act of
forgiving either oneself, or an offender. Being able to forgive means to be
able to look past the concrete aspects of a scenario, having the courage to
understand what happened, and reviewing the scenario with an empathetic eye.
Although it is crucial to move on from traumatic or hurtful events, we, as
humans, do not forget these experiences. We adapt to such tragic scenarios and
learn to take action in order to prevent such events from reoccurring. I believe
that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, but rather a strength that truly
defines the character of an individual. Anyone can easily remain angry, whether
that be at ourselves through circumstances out of our control, or at our
aggressors, but it takes true strength to be able to comprehend our feelings
and how to cope with them, as well as putting ourselves in the shoes of others
while attempting to understand why what happened, happened.  Forgiveness is conveyed as the culmination of
healing from such traumatic events. When we face an issue, the easiest thing
one can do is avoid the problem, suppress the toxic feelings, and justify it
with the “Out of sight, out of mind” ideology. In reality, being able to
forgive is one of the healthiest coping mechanisms possible, demonstrating an
upper hand in a victim and attacker relationship through having the courage to
proceed with confrontation as well as proving that forgiving is a choice made
only by the victim, for the victim, and not motivated or forced by any external
factors. In addition, being able to forgive oneself shows the capacity to
self-reflect with the intentions to grow as an individual.

            Forgiveness should not just be defined through a simple
phrase, but rather an idea that can be interpreted in many different ways.
Trauma and tragedy are unavoidable, but allow us to prosper once we overcome
it. 

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