Some books are meant to be read and re-read and I’m finding that Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is a good one for me to re-read. I’ve just finished the first part of the book where he recounts some of his experiences as a Jewish prisoner during World War II.
As I read this I think about the 64 Days of Non-Violence-A Season for Peace & Non-Violence campaign and the need for faith and hope. We must have faith in the future, that things will change. Not only should we have hope in this change, but help others to find, see, and have hope in their future as well. Frankl wrote:
“A prisoner who had lost faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay… We all feared this moment – not for ourselves, which would have been pointless, but for our friends.”
“But our senior block warden was a wise man. He improvised a little talk about all that was on our minds at that moment. He talked about the many comrades who had died in the last few days, either of sickness or of suicide. But he also mentioned what may have been the real reason for their deaths: giving up hope. He maintained that there should be some way of preventing possible future victims from reaching this extreme state.”
“Then I spoke of the future. I said that to the impartial the future must seem hopeless. I agreed that each of us could guess for himself how small were his chances of survival. But I also told them that, in spite of this, I had no intention of losing hope and giving up. For no man knew what the future would bring, much less the next hour. Even if we could not expect any sensational military events in the next few days, who knew better than we, with our experience of camps, how great chances sometimes opened up, quite suddenly, at least for the individual. For instance, one might be attached unexpectedly to a special group with exceptionally good working conditions – for this was the kind of thing which constituted the “luck” of the prisoner.”
In A Season for Non-Violence, I would encourage people to be kind, compassionate, and be more observant and patient with friends – know that there may be more ‘behind the scenes’ of their life than what they share with the world. Whether battling cancer, mourning the death of a loved one, trying to heal through divorce, recover from addictions, or trying to get through a difficult situation, giving words of hope and/or encouragement to them, unsolicited, without expectations of gratitude, and knowing there may be no recognition in your efforts, may change their life. It may be the “luck” that Frankl wrote about.
It takes such little effort to show support through a note, words, or even listening to someone talk while you sip a cup of coffee. Give them blessings. Why would you want to do anything less than what’s kind, full of compassion, or would not lift another person up?