David Trinko: Wipe the slate clean

How long should you hold a grudge?

What’s the appropriate amount of time before you should forgive and forget?

One of the roles I serve at The Lima News is “institutional memory.” I’m the lone news-side person who’s been here more than 10 years, so my memories of things dating back to 1997 has some value when we’re plotting how to cover the news of the day.

Sometimes a name will come up, and I’ll share whatever hot water they were in dozens of years ago, giving a newer reporter some background on a person and why they might have a beef with us.

I also take the calls when someone claims to know our motives for covering or not covering something, and they share some tidbits that happened 30 years ago, before any of our news editors or reporters were working in Lima.

Then I think about raising my own children and the lessons we teach them about forgiveness.

I remember when they were younger, counseling them through their tears after some blow-up. I’d always give them the same advice: If you’re really sorry, you need to apologize to their face and move on from it. Once they accept your apology, neither of you should ever bring it up again.

It’s a repeated theme throughout the Christian gospels. Forgiveness is a cornerstone of the faith. Sins are forgiven by God all the time, so long as you’re ready to repent and be a changed person.

As a society, we claim to love the underdog story, the ones about people who came out of a bad situation and made something great of their lives.

In our day-to-day lives, though, we often keep our guards up, thinking about some faltering from years ago.

It certainly happens with people released from prison. They’ve served their time. According to the state, they’ve been rehabilitated. Yet we continue to view that person for whatever crime they committed back in the day, leaving no room for the changed person who may have walked back into free society.

I understand the importance of testing a newly released person, to be sure they truly are changed. It’s easy to fall back into old habits, especially the ones that feed our addictions. Once someone proves they’re changed, though, shouldn’t we also free them from the shackles we’ve placed upon them in our minds?

Similarly, so-called cancel culture wants to catch you on something dumb you said or thought years ago. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all said or done something stupid in our younger days. I’m personally glad social media didn’t exist during my high school or college years, so those memories merely exist in the heads of those sworn to silence over our stupidity.

Now, though, people are judged on their attempts at humor on Twitter or for having some misguided ideas they expressed once. Isn’t part of growing up working through those ideas, learning from life and landing on better beliefs? What good does it do to punish someone today for what they said or thought years ago?

We all deserve a clean slate, and it’s up to each of us to keep that slate clean.

I’m hopeful I can break this bad habit of labeling people for something that happened years ago. I’m eager to have an open mind and absorb new information about people, giving them a fair chance. It’s time to forgive and forget some of those old grudges.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

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David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.