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What About Forgiveness?

January 25, 2023

One of the main arguments for cancel culture is the idea that it’s a form of accountability— a tool to prevent harmful behaviors in teens.

“If someone shuns me, that might be the best lesson I’d ever have as a 16-year-old at Jesuit,” Jesuit counselor Mr. Jason Lowery said. “It’d be better to happen then than as a 25-year-old at a job when you say the wrong thing to the wrong person. So I think that every experience we go through, whether it is good or bad, helps us become who we are.”

The definition of accountability reads, “the obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.” Taking accountability for mistakes is meant to be an individualized practice, for the courage to grow is facilitated by the belief that external forgiveness is possible, something cancel culture ignores.

“Once you get canceled, it’s kind of your identity,” Barthold said. “If there’s no forgiveness, it doesn’t help you move forward after.”

As a result of teens observing public cancellations online between politicians and celebrities in a negative, artificial light, they may forget the crucial reminder to have empathy for those who make mistakes.

“Forgiveness can be a countercultural notion in contemporary U.S. culture,” Bernards said. “We should really work toward creating relationships where if somebody has wronged someone else, recognizing the opportunity to forgive and communicate directly with one another instead of canceling.”

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