Regarding Accountability and Forgiveness

What the World Needs Now

David Brooks, an important journalist and thinker of the 2010’s, writes that the ’20’s will be the decade of “social repair”:

The Trump era had witnessed a crisis of connection at the bottom of society and a crisis of authority at the top. Social repair was the top order of the day once a new president took office.

The first whiff of the cultural restoration was the “Accountability Clubs” that spread across the nation’s campuses. College students realized that America stinks at accountability. Either there is no accountability (Wall Street after the financial crisis) or people have their lives destroyed for a “problematic” tweet.

The Accountability Clubs bore the motto “Truth and Mercy.” Students wanted to restore a culture in which facts mattered. They were also searching for a way to judge others in a graduated and humane manner, allowing for repentance, forgiveness and restoration. Marshall McLuhan once remarked that “moral indignation is a technique used to endow an idiot with dignity.” Suddenly indignation, the keystone emotion of the Trump years, was lame. Empathy made a comeback.

This idea of “Accountability and Forgiveness,” similar to South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation,” is a positive trend that I hope will happen. I always think, what happens if a trend spirals out of control — will it be perpetually positive, or will it ultimately self-destruct or self-correct or quietly disappear, etc.? In my old age, I like to think that all trends will self-correct, and that no effort on my part is necessary. When I was younger, I thought of myself as needing to “keep my finger in dike” to protect Holland from a menacing flood —,_or_The_Silver_Skates#Statues_of_the_boy_and_the_dike. Now that I have observed many examples of my efforts falling short of “saving the world,” and also seeing public opinion change to advance my initial opinions about positive changes we should make, it is comforting as my energy declines to believe that everything is self-correcting. Still, it feels good to “get on the bandwagon” and nudge positive changes along —

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