Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Victor Frankl

Posted on: May 25, 2010

Thanks to Harmanjit, i came upon the wikipedia entry of Victor Frankl, psychologist and concentration camp prisoner for a few years. Some very hard hitting lines from him. But it says it all:-

… We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….”

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2 Responses to "Victor Frankl"

Yes, and this is at least a part of the core of Christianity.What gives people strength to persevere in such conditions as Frankl describes? In his case it was love for his wife. In the case of Gandhi or King, the motivation not just to face but to seek out and even invite various difficulties, came from inner commitment. Whatever form it takes people are creatures of straw in the absence of such a core.

Its ironic how facing the very worst brings out the very best from inside of people, doesnt it? Its like a cycle of violence that births the best thoughts that come to us in this and the past century. Every war inspires its share of literature and films. Incredible, isnt it?

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