People say that we need to undo the negative effects of the past so that we can move forward.  When I hear or read this my internal reaction is “WHAT????  Are you nuts?  Ever heard of forgetting the past meaning that we need to relive it?  Are you crazy?”  My external reaction is usually, “Huh?!!”.  I find that it causes less conflict if I keep them in that order.  I probably shouldn’t have such a reaction to the sentiment at all, but it strikes me as so counter productive and so negative and possibly destructive that I have a hard time shrugging it off.

Negative actions have negative effects.  Period.  Positive things can come from them as well and we can construct positive things from the results of negative actions if we choose to do so, but in the end, something negative happened and there were consequences to this.  To ‘undo’ those effects is, first of all, physically impossible. You can’t unbreath air, you can’t unring a bell, you can’t undo an action.  You can mitigate the effects, but you can’t ‘undo’ it.   But I will concede the point that I might be taking this too literally.  So let’s look at the intent.

Wanting to ‘undo’ negative effects, I believe, means wanting to make things right, make them better, make things ok again.  I’m good with that.  However, again, the bell can’t be unrung.  The event has happened.  So to make things right the negative effects need to be healed, to be dealt with, to be mitigated.  Again, they can’t be undone because they happened and everything connected with it, who heard about it, was effected by those who were effected by it, have all been changed.  The Universe has been changed by this event and those changes are permanent and valid.  Those effects have to be dealt with as concrete reality.  Also, I believe that ‘undo’ includes the meaning to forget, to roll back time, to make the event magically not have happened or to make it invalid or unimportant.  Moving forward seems to be the important point.  However, forgetting what happened makes it dangerously possible for it to happen again because if we don’t learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others we are doomed to repeat them.  Undoing the effects of the event makes is possible for it to recur and could even be construed as tacit permission.

The worst part about ‘undoing’ negative effects is that it reviolates the effected.  Undoing the negative effects of domestic violence means telling the victim to forget it ever happened and just move on thinking happier thoughts, in my opinion.  But in that case what does the victim do with all of their emotions, their need to heal, their need to create a new life with the knowledge that this event happened?  What do they do about protecting themselves from further violence if they are forgetting?  Too many violent acts are kept secret, are hidden, are ‘forgotten’ forcefully.  Undoing negative effects is not the answer.  Remembering them in a healthy way, learning from them, healing the effects of them, working to make sure they don’t happen again through the strength earned through survival can allow us to thrive and become whole and elevated as a society.