Yesterday I wrote about what I called the heart of freedom, stating that being able to choose your beliefs was more important than being able to change your environment.
I quoted Viktor Frankl stating that being able to choose your beliefs was a freedom that could never be taken away. What does that freedom get you? “Just” feelings? Or does it get you more than that?
He followed up yesterday’s quote with
When we are no longer able to change a situation – just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer – we are challenged to change ourselves.
By no means would I suggest his environment had anything desirable, but observe where this ability took him. In the midst of one of the harshest environments humans have had to endure, look at where his mind took him:
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.”
… 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.
Not only does he show no signs of self-pity or victim-hood, look at what he talks about: “truth… song… poets… love… meaning… salvation… bliss…” Despite his environment, his mind seemed free. I am not him so I don’t know, but I suspect he felt more free than people in luxurious environments feel who don’t know how to change their beliefs.
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