Acest scurt eseu face parte dintre documentele publicate în pregătirea conferinței de la Lausanne. Sper să am timp să-l traduc curând și în limba română. Documentul oferă niște linii călăuzitoare esențiale pentru o înțelegere corectă a istoriei.
- Care este metoda prin care sunt investigate faptele?
- Care sunt standardele morale după care analizăm faptele?
- Ce rost are cunoașterea trecutului din perspectiva viitorului?
Iată și un mic citat din paragraful final:
Fără viitor, nu este speranță. Fără trecut, intervine riscul uitării sau pericolul de a minimaliza faptele, acțiunile și responsabilitățile făptașilor împotriva victimelor.
Prezentul, la rândul său, trebuie să devină fertil prin practica recunoașterii și a pocăinței. Numai pocăința poate sfărâma colivia de fier a urii și răzbunării („ochi pentru ochi și dinte pentru dinte”). Pacea reprezintă evenimentul prin care reconcilierea este inițiată în mod natural, fără constrângeri externe și fără tăgăduirea trecutului. Văzute dintr-o perspectivă escatologică, istoria și memoria ajung să slujească binelui comun.
„History, Memory, and Eschatology” Jean-Claude Polet (emeritus, University of Bruxelles)
1. History, as part of the ‘humanities department’, establishes facts, by way of investigating the sources. Among all the events recorded by history, some have become part of our collective (should we say universal) consciousness. They usually involve moral and legal issues (errors, violations, misdemeanors, mass crimes). In order to qualify various historical events in such a manner, one needs to acknowledge a set of values depending upon metaphysical, ethical, religious, or ideological principles. But the visible facts always hide the invisible acts of one’s intentionality. Here, the historian is called to investigate the responsibility for those individual and collective deeds that have troubled the consciousness of humankind. The historian cannot merely report facts, with the subsequent task of classifying those facts into various rubrics. The acts of intentionality that have led to horrors, such as Communism or Fascism, are the most troublesome and they still haunt the human consciousness. This leads us to the second point: the status of memory.
2. Memory. One has to balance the rigorous standards of moral qualification (regarding the intentional acts) and with the accuracy of evidence (establishing the facts). The problem in the judgments of history, as in any trial delayed in time, is that standards, legal or moral change from time to time. This raises the question related to the relative or absolute order of our judgment. In order to prevent the spreading of oblivion, we must put in place the hermeneutics of memory. History, indeed, looks at the past through the lenses of the present tense. But digging into the past cannot avoid the finality of time, or the dynamic future, in the light of which all actors and interpreters of history take their decisions. How are we to counterbalance the relativity of standards? Or, put it another way, what is the purpose of history? Where to find an absolute principle of order in history, which enables the historian to judge according to stable standards and criteria? Modern civilization has established human rights as an expression of the supreme standard of morality. On their behalf, we speak of crimes against humanity. But could we envisage a horizon where past crimes are also part of a dialectics of absolution, or forgiveness? In order to do so, we need to connect memory and history to eschatology – to the open future of humankind.
3. Eschatology. This eschatological perspective on forgiveness requires the reunion of past, present, and future. Justice, on the one hand, and absolution, on the other hand, can meet only by realizing this continuity between past, present, and future. Without future, there is no hope. Without past, there is the risk of amnesia and the danger of minimizing the facts, actions, and responsibilities of the perpetrators against their victims. The present, in its turn, must be made fertile through the practice of recognition and repentance. It is only repentance that breaks through the iron cage of hatred and revenge (‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’). Peace is the event whereby reconciliation is enacted freely, without external compulsion or without the denial of the past. Seen from an eschatological perspective, history and memory come to serve the common good.