Based on the ideas of Simon Wiesenthal, do you think religion plays a role in the understanding of forgiveness?
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Simon Wiesenthal is of course a famed Nazi-hunter who is also deeply religious. What is interesting about this whole issue is the way in which his ideas of forgiveness directly stem from his religious beliefs. Wiesenthal believes that ultimately forgiveness for him is a deeply personal matter. This therefore indicates that we have the ability and the right to forgive those that did something to us, but we do not have that ability to forgive what was done to others. Based on this, he believes that the atrocities committed by the Nazis can never actually be atoned, as those who have died will never be able to forgive their killers. However, he sees it as his role to pursue the remaining Nazi war criminals so that their guilt will never be forgotten.
We can clearly see how Wiesenthal's framework of forgiveness and guilt stems from his relgious beliefs, however, clearly it is possible to take issue with the conclusions that he has come to. In a sense, forgiveness is an issue that is so intimately connected with religion that our own understanding of the word is undoubtedly going to be impacted by our own religious beliefs, no matter what they are or who we are.
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