At a time when “cancel culture” is prominent in our society, the concept of forgiveness has become rare. As soon as something negative comes out in the media about a celebrity’s past, they are almost immediately shunned by the general public, without having a chance to defend themselves or apologize for their actions. Social media has made it possible for anyone with an opinion to voice what they’re thinking, making it nearly impossible for celebrities to avoid negative comments after they make a mistake.
This trend of unforgiveness is incredibly dangerous. It presumes that people are either inherently good or inherently bad and are incapable of changing. Part of growing as a person is admitting one’s mistakes and apologizing for them, but cancel culture does not allow for this. People who are called out are usually not given the opportunity to apologize and even if they are, their apologies are typically dismissed.
This issue is especially problematic within activist groups. There is an increased pressure to be perfect—activists feel like they are required to be completely informed on their particular issue. This makes it difficult to recruit new people and challenge problematic mindsets, because those within the activist group are unwilling to educate others.
One of the most popular places for activist groups is college campuses. During college, many students discover what they’re passionate about and join groups on campus that are related to different social problems. Although one of the main goals of these groups is to recruit as many students as possible, it can be off putting if people feel that they have to be perfect and completely knowledgeable on the topic before joining. College is a place to learn and grow from your mistakes, so if people are not willing to forgive others for their errors or ignorance on certain subjects, the true purpose of college is completely lost.
It is important to “cancel” individuals’ negative ideas, but not necessarily the individuals themselves. Although I think there are some actions that are unforgivable, we must remember that we are all human and therefore are all bound to make mistakes. We have all said or done things that we shouldn’t have, but hopefully we have also all grown and learned from those mistakes. Part of making mistakes is the ability to not only learn from it yourself, but to educate others. Taking the time to explain why something is wrong or hurtful is very important in preventing others from making the same mistakes in the future.
If our society is unwilling to forgive each other, then people will not be willing to open up about the mistakes they have made, thus eliminating the opportunity for education.