From everything I've witnessed while being here in Cape Town, the importance of forgiving has been reinforced for me. Forgiveness is undeniably a milestone in the process of attaining freedom, as well as in the healing of the individual and the system (the community). I believe that once you forgive a perpetrator who has wronged you, you can finally be healed from the hurtful situation, which leads to ultimate freedom. Forgiveness as a part of the healing process applies to all situations, from personal and relational problems to societal uprisings such as the Apartheid that occurred in South Africa.
In class, we watched a documentary called "Facing the Truth" with Bill Moyers. In a nutshell, the documentary was about South Africa's climb out of Apartheid and their process of reconciliation afterwards. Families who were affected by violent attacks were given the opportunity of knowing exactly what happened to their loved ones and why. In return, those who were perpetrators were given amnesty by telling the truth.
Seeing the first two parts of the documentary "Facing the Truth" really helped me to make sense of the correlation between forgiveness and freedom. For me, listening to the personal accounts of those affected by the Apartheid reaffirmed the statement "The truth will set you free." Although the truth and reconciliation hearings were very difficult for people to attend and listen to the detailed ways that their loved ones were killed, I honestly feel as though it was a blessing for them to hear. I say this because many people stated that it would be difficult to forgive the perpetrators without knowing exactly who the perpetrators were and what they did. It wasn't until many of them knew what happened that they were able to forgive and feel that sense of freedom.
The correlation of forgiveness and freedom also reminds me of a man named Joe who was our tour guide when we went to District Six. Before going into the town of District Six, at the museum, Joe explained to us the brutal forced removal that took place in the 1960's. After Joe spoke, a couple of us students asked him how he felt towards the people who had destructed his community. His answer went along the lines of "I have forgiven them and I honestly feel sorry for them." It is apparent to me that Joe, and other people who were forcibly removed from District Six have a sense of freedom in their hearts, which has to do with the way in which they healed from the removal. They forgave, but did not forget. The fact that the majority of those working at the District Six museum are people who lived in the area speaks volumes about their healing, as well as their personal and community freedom.