This article, a revision of the Raymund Schwager, S.J., Memorial Lecture, given at the Colloquium on Religion and Violence, July 10, 2015, St. Louis University, focuses on the risk of memory and the cost of forgetting. Memory, and the act of remembering both individually and collectively as a society, involves risk to a society’s present, past, and future. Forgetting comes at a price exacted by the past, but paid in the present for the future, even as nations sometimes choose to forget. This thesis is developed in three parts – common meaning and memory as grounding a community; the cost of forgetting so as to erase memory of wrongdoing; and the terrible implications of the cost of forgetting in the context of the shooting at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church on June 17, 2015 in South Carolina. When we risk memory, we collectively take responsibility to embody ethical responsibility for the past, in the present, and for the future.


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