The First Freedom

“There is a liberty deep within man that was aptly described by psychologist Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz: ‘…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way’ (Viktor Emil. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning [New York: Pocket Books, 1984], 86). The element of choice is one thing that separates man from materials that follow the laws of physics. Man’s intellect and will allow him the capacity of ‘viewing [objects that are good and desirable] in the light of truth and so adopting an independent attitude to them. Without this faculty man would inevitably be determined by them: these goods would take possession of him and determine totally the character of his actions and the whole direction of his activity’ (Wojtyła, Love and Responsibility, 115).”

This is a paragraph from my Thesis, completed in 2018. I think Frankl’s views, as a survivor of Auchwitz, are important to keep in mind during this health crisis. Our attitudes towards life and one another are of paramount importance, and will ultimately see us through. What is it that takes possession of our thoughts? Is it how much money we are losing? Is it worry over our next meal? Concern over toilet paper?

Or is it concern about the people in our midst, who have been given to us as our family and friends? Their mere presence is a gift. They are an image of God with us, Emmanuel. We have the freedom to choose this thought at any moment. It is a thought that will bear fruit.

Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.

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