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Is It Wise to Remember the Good and Evil in Our Lives?

In his 1986 Nobel Lecture, Elie Wiesel says:

It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.

But he also says:

Without the ability to forget, man would live in a permanent, paralyzing fear of death.

In other words ... it is wise to remember the good in our lives and to forget the bad (so we can go on living). But ... we must remember the bad in order to be sure it doesn’t happen again.

Wiesel calls this a paradox:

How are we to reconcile our supreme duty towards memory with the need to forget that is essential to life? No generation has had to confront this paradox with such urgency.

What makes these two competing needs paradoxical? Is there a way to solve this paradox? Explain your answer.

What do you think is wise:

  • To remember only the good;
  • To remember all of the good and all of the bad;
  • To remember all of the good and some of the bad;
  • To remember all of the bad and some of the good?

Explain your answer.


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