The semantics of forgiveness was readily apparent in the following statement by Oprah Winfrey:
Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it’s accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.—Oprah
But the statement gave me pause, so I have broken down the reason why below. However, first let’s establish an understanding of the use of the word hope. The “Perfect English Grammar” website provides an excellent reference for when and how to use it. The source states the following:
You don’t give up the hope that the past could have been any different because could have been already expresses either that:
These meanings of could is according to the “TheFreeDictionary.com.”
From a present-tense perspective, hope refers to an opportunity that is already lost, NOT an impossibility. So there is no longer any point in hoping, hence:
From a past-tense perspective, hope no longer refers to an opportunity that was lost but to an impossible situation, something that we cannot change. Therefore, we are now referring to the future in the past. So there is an even stronger reason to no longer hope, hence:
The “Perfect English Grammar” website has an excellent reference for using the word wish. It states the following:
So the original statement would be better and correctly expressed as follows:
While could may be used to express OPPORTUNITY in the present, could have does not. Instead, it expresses something else altogether as a tense used to refer to a past event that DID NOT in fact HAPPEN or to something that was NOT in fact TRUE.
The above link to the “TheFreeDictionary.com” does an excellent job navigating the different uses of could.
Let’s not forget the power of forgiveness: it’s about you giving up the horrible construct of regret. Entertaining hope when there is an extraordinary unlikelihood of the thing hoped for coming to be is the epitome of regret. Indeed, the past could never be different than what it was, unless we are referring to differing recollections of it, which is a whole other ball game. And in that game, no amount or degree of semantics can help you manoeuvre the inherent lack of rules that would be involved in how we see or process our own subjective experiences.