Insight returns to SBS next week beginning with an ‘exploration of forgiveness.’
Forgiving people who have done wrong is often seen as something to aspire to. But some believe there is too much pressure on people to forgive, and that forgiveness is overrated. One expert is even championing a so-called “healthy unforgiveness”.
Insight asks whether it is always possible, and desirable, to ‘forgive and forget’, whether an apology makes a difference to an ability to forgive, and whether forgiving yourself is sometimes the hardest challenge of all.
From a reckless decision that’s affected two mates forever, to adultery, murder, and an injustice by a government policy – Insight brings together a group of Australians with extraordinary experiences and hears why they can or can’t forgive.
Karen and John Lang
Karen and John Lang’s teenage daughter was murdered 14 years ago. Jessica was stabbed repeatedly in the Lang family home in an attack by a female acquaintance, motivated by jealousy. Karen says she’s been able to forgive Jessica’s killer, but John says he cannot. Both Karen and John have come face to face with Jessica’s murderer during a prison visit.
Mark Walsham and Theo Joos
Mark Walsham says he will never forgive himself for a car accident five years ago that left his passenger – best mate Theo Joos – in a wheelchair for life. Mark and Theo had both been drinking on the night of the accident. They opted for Mark to do the driving as Theo had already lost his licence for drink driving offences. Theo says there’s nothing to forgive Mark for, as they were both responsible for the accident.
Susan Moylan-Coombes was removed from her mother at birth during the time of the Stolen Generation. She says she was shocked by her emotional reaction to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to indigenous Australians in 2008. Susan didn’t think she needed an apology.
Jeanne Safer says there is too much pressure on people to forgive, and instead advocates something she calls “healthy unforgiveness”. Jeanne is a US-based psychologist and author of ‘Forgiving and Not Forgiving’.
Alfred Allan is a South African psychologist and lawyer who has studied the positive effects of forgiveness and the difference an apology can make to someone’s ability to forgive. Alfred has examined reports from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has looked at how forgiveness may lead to an improvement in mental health.
Reverend Professor James Haire
As a theologian and leader in the Uniting Church, James Haire has looked closely at reconciliation and forgiveness. He says Christianity teaches that all humans are in need of forgiveness. James is Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.
Tuesday 24 July 8.30pm on SBS ONE