A few years back, I watched a documentary I’d found scrolling through Netflix, titled “Forgiving Dr. Mengele.” It centered on Eva Mozes Kor, a Romanian Holocaust survivor who has made it her life’s mission to forgive her former tormentors and teach others about the importance of forgiveness. Since hearing Kor’s story, the concept of forgiveness has intrigued me, and it would appear I’m not alone. Marina Cantacuzino, author of The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age, has dedicated years to the study of why people forgive, what happens to them when they do, and how being forgiven can, in turn, affect and influence perpetrators.
In her preface, Cantacuzino states that she takes a neutral stance on forgiveness. She feels it is right for some but not for others. She prefers to look at forgiveness from a secular perspective, feeling that when viewed in this light, anyone can engage in it, regardless of religious background or lack thereof.
The book itself is a compilation of the stories of individuals, including Eva Kor, who have experienced significant trauma, particularly through the intentional and destructive actions of others. Their views on forgiveness range from ambivalent to wholly in favor, but they all seem to agree that vengeance accomplishes nothing and more positive avenues should be used moving forward following a tragedy. I feel a tremendous amount of respect for these individuals for speaking out against hate and revenge.
Reading about the extreme hardships these people have faced was, at times, depressing, but I finished the book feeling inspired by their determination to persevere and move beyond their personal tragedies.
Rated: Moderate. Some non-graphic references to sexual assault and a few swear words (including one F-word). Violence and murder mentioned but never in detail.