Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness
imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Wiesenthal was taken one
day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS.
Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted
to confess to and obtain absolution from a Jew. Faced with the choice
between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Weisenthal said
nothing. But even years after the war had ended, he wondered: Had
he done the right thing?
presented this ethical dilemma to leading intellectuals and theologians
of various faiths. The responses of fifty-three distinguished
men and women are presented in The Sunflower. They are theologians,
political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists,
Holocaust survivors and victims of attempted genocide in Bosnia, Cambodia,
China and Tibet. They include The Dalai Lama, Matthew Fox, Mary Gordon,
Yossi Klein Halevi, Arthur Herzberg, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Cynthia
Ozick, Desmond Tutu and Harry Wu. Their responses, as varied as their
experiences of the world, remind us that Weisenthal's questions are
not limited to events of the past.
important book has provoked international dialogue, bringing together
people of diverse backgrounds and faiths, to confront profound and
disturbing moral questions. Often surprising and always thought-provoking,
The Sunflower challenges you to define your beliefs about justice,
compassion, and human responsibility.
1998, JHOM conducted an online reading group
forum on The Sunflower, moderated by some of the thinkers and writers
who contributed to Weisenthal's book.