Ask Me Why: To forgive, but not forget

March 18, 2011

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(Flickr/Clara Zamith)
How do you know when, or if, it’s time to forgive?

This next installment of Ask Me Why tackles a painful, hot-button topic: Should convicted sex offenders stay on a permanent registry that documents their offenses? Or, should they be removed from the list after some period of time?

Helena Carnes-Jeffries, 36, picked the topic. You may have heard her on our airwaves last month talking about her struggles with mental illness that stem from the childhood sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. When she learned that her father had abused other victims, she felt like the system had failed to protect others, just as it failed to protect her.

Carnes-Jeffries’ conversation partner was friend and fellow writer Betsy Benefield, who is in her early 50s. Inspired in part by her Christian faith, Benefield felt strongly that even people who have committed the most heinous of crimes deserve a shot at redemption.

When Benefield revealed her own personal stake in this topic, the exchange turned into a meditation on forgiveness. How do you know when it’s time to forgive? And how can you make sure someone has really changed? You can hear an edited version of their conversation in the audio posted above.

Ask Me Why is produced in collaboration with the Illinois Humanities Council, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form here.