He is quoted proverbially or poetically, sometimes knowingly and scripturally:
The stupid neither forgive nor forget;
the naive forgive and forget;
the wise forgive but do not forget.
As often as pairs of options are ever offered as advice or warning, many such pairs are taken as being logically paired (‘of course’) or assumed uncritically as be opposites.
The distinct members of such a pair, ‘forgive and forget’, seldom occur one without the other. We are left to wonder (if one even possesses such a disposition as ‘wonder’) why the two should need joining. After all, the two are mentioned together so often, naturally, they must be the same; or opposite views of the same thing; or two roads that meet. We put ourselves in some trouble whether we take them to be the same or reject the truth of one, but not the other, or pretend they don’t exist. This comes from a simple failure to ask a question.
I have no doubt that Thomas Szasz knew what forgiveness and forgetfulness meant, so I am left to wonder how it is that he would leave off a perfectly obvious fourth way of considering the forced pairs, ‘forgive’ and ‘forget’, that is, to never forgive, unless you can help it, but, for some greater need, to simply choose forgetfulness.
As so often happens, no sooner have I uttered those words, than a well-fed and self-consciously holy man strolls up to purr,
…oh, no my brother, I say that he is right! It is never good to not forgive, for that is what sets a superior man apart: It is the ability to move on.
Well, then, I’ll raise the bar one notch higher! Forgiveness is immoral and unethical. Who is it who so thoroughly parsed the actions, mental work, and circumstances around this “forgiveness” word that he can say “never”? That man has no idea where “forgiveness” and “forgetfulness” differ and where they intersect.
How else does any man ever “move on” than that he merely chooses to forget? The man who pretends to “forgive” is only just putting out of his own mind the fantasy of punishment: Most men haven’t the power or the ability to mete out what the offender has coming to him. And, the one who defers or gives up or “let’s go” isn’t actually doing anything anyway but just “forgetting” until such time when he must decide again after being forced to remember.
The superior mind is not a child, but is aware of the realities of reciprocity and who raises a glass with purpose and says, “now I will forget, for the good of all, not the least being myself. But if it happens again…”