The Power and Paradox of Forgiveness

At the heart of forgiveness lies a paradox: if you are culpable for what you did and therefore deserve to be punished rather than forgiven for it, then you will always be culpable for what you did. Forgiveness plays no role in righting the wrong. And yet, the acts of forgiving and being forgiven are essential to a building a compassionate society, facilitating reconciliation, and recognizing the potential for personal growth. In this course, students explore this paradox as well as the power that comes from acceptance. How can one forgive the person but not the act itself? Are there acts that are beyond forgiveness? Can one be forgiven without showing remorse? Can someone forgive on behalf of others? Students gain insight through a series of readings such as The Sunflower, by Simon Wiesenthal, as well as films and other texts. Students develop a comprehensive understanding of the concept of reconciliation, particularly the necessity of empathy and humanity in the process. We also explore the difference between interpersonal justice and criminal justice.

Min-Max Credit Hours: 1.0-1.0