Is it time to forgive Jack Neo? – A Study in Peace & Reconciliation
November 21, 2010
(To Increase the font size – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) It hardly requires any elaboration: understanding the past is crucial in the process of peace and reconciliation – the question is why should we even bother with the whole formality of forgiving? What is the point of even making a big deal out of forgetting? Coming to think of it, do we even have such a thing as a social right in the community contract to demand such a thing?
If there is one thing long standing conflicts tell us. For example: Turks versus Armenians, Hutus versus Tutsi, Serbs versus Albanians and closer to home Gahmen versus bloggers – it may be to reframe the question of forgiving and forgetting in terms of whether we can really afford not to learn how to do this often and regularly - the stakes are high – because if we don’t learn how to forgive and forget; we may be stuck in one groove or worse still caught up in the gyre of the blame game - without a coherent way of resolving conflicts. The danger is as time goes by our differences will merely fossilized into something very close to “ancient enmities” – and this implies one group hating another group for no apparent reason.
In this sense – the art of forgiving and forgetting not only has a strategic value but since the pay out’s remain high, it’s arguable for any society to perpetuate itself coherently. This may well be an indispensable skill that we need to learn if we are serious about the business of getting along - it’s even conceivable when we talk about the whole idea of the common good, community and the social contract - if we remain bovine about the whole idea of learning the art of forgiving and forgetting – we may run the danger of aping the form without embodying the content.
In considering whether we should forgive Jack Neo for his indiscreations, this debate takes place against the philosophical backdrop that I have just painted - the case for forgiving and forgetting goes back to an excellent blog essay once written by General George Yeo – it was written some years ago when he first started blogging. In an age when it was not unusual for netizens in the Singapore blogosphere to write 4 or even 5 pages – a bygone age when readers could bear the beauty of the written word for all it’s glory - and though the narrative is hazy. I remember it was set in the Sikh community and involved the perpetrator being symbolically tied up by the elders in the community - in the end, the perpetrator was forgiven by the community again – this story may sound child like and even irrelevant to many; but what it attempts to broach is a very serious subject that involves the recognition by the perpetrators of the damage they inflicted on victims – and how victims must also be allowed the right to closure. For this to really happen, there should be opportunities for victims and perpetrators to talk about these events, and for the events to be acknowledged by whoever caused them – the truth it seems will set you free – this essay has been withdrawn from general circulation due to Measured response.