Anger and Forgiveness

Martha Nussbam’s ‘Anger and Forgiveness’ reflects an important component of transitional justice processes through the framework of the transactional. Insecurity from threats to status remains a major underlying cause of anger, distracting the focus from the wrong act to the subject of anger. Trust, as one central theme of the text, is theorized within the vulnerability of its subject to possible harm within intimate relations, captured as ‘profound helplessness,’ a betrayal of which results in anger. Anger is this targeted at the ‘betrayer’ with the ‘act’ as focus. She advocates for the constructive use of anger, which is often deployed to mask grieve, through a transition from anger to mourning (a necessary component of grieve) and then constructive future in the stead of vengeance, which restricts one to the futile past. This could be achieved within the process of forgiveness, which is enduring and entails responsibilities of multiple actors in transiting from the pain of anger. The text presents a useful guide for negotiating forgiveness in transitioning societies in achieving peacebuilding.

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