Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Man's Search For Meaning

I have been re-reading Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. There is a theory that man evolved from animals. That we once walked hunched, giving in to our baser instints as we scrambled through our basic lives. It is interesting to read of the accounts of World War II from a psychologists point of view. Who are we? In such a short book Mr. Frankl recounts images that would prove those baser instincts. That animalistic genetics that must, if the theory be correct, reside within each of us. It makes me grieve for humanity. But then there are the other stories. The few men who would give up a piece of bread, on the point of starvation, to someone who needed it more. The rush outside to witness a glorious sunset. The men who missed meals to hear a rare concert of Italian arias from someone who did not always look like a walking scarecrow. Surely these stories whisper, there must be a spark within us that yearns for these things. A spark that separates us from our baser selves. From whence did this spark come? From the monkey hanging from the tree or from something divine? My favorite quote of Mr. Frankl's is that the war showed us who we truly are.

 "After all, man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or Shema Yisrael on his lips.

I have a friend who recently blogged about how she usually only reads realistic fiction. It made me think. I am continually bouncing through genres. Classics, mysteries, historical, biographies, fantasy, science fiction....if it is well written then I will give it a read. Lately though I have picked up quite a few 'beach reads'. This is my term for fun reads that really require no thinking. As much of an escape as these are whenever I return to truly great works I often wonder why I don't read them all the time. They change my thoughts, my attitute towards my life, my conversations with my husband. In essence, they change who I am.

More Great Quotes From Man's Search For Meaning
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our reponse lies our growth and our freedom.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.
Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.


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