“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.” – Victor Frankl
Frankl emerged from one of the most tragic events of humankind with this philosophy. His tragedy inspired him to write, “Man’s Search of Meaning”. Sprinkled throughout the pages are his learnings, gratitude, and bits of enlightenment. His own chosen way.
As Passover quickly approaches, I reflect on the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom. While we must acknowledge our current freedoms, I question the constraints we continue to place on ourselves and others. I think of the ways in which my negative thoughts dampen my spirit, how my personal beliefs and biases limit me, how my role as a victim continues to harm me.
And now, this virus. This indiscriminate, ruthless virus.
Historically, tragedy has been targeted. Like Passover, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt while others all around the world lived freely. During the Holocaust, the Jews in Europe were being massacred while the Jews in America lived freely. In Africa, Boko Haram killed innocent Africans while Africans around the world lived freely.
While such man-made tragedies are incomparable, I can’t help but think about how COVID-19 is challenging us all in various but similar ways. About how this is a terrible battle, but it is a shared battle for which we are all fighting, together.
So I turn to the wisdom of Frankl. We could easily slip into despair, or we can choose to lean into a different emotion and take on a different perspective. We can lean into a state of empathy and recognize that we are all going through it. Truly.
Eventually, this too shall pass and disease and affliction will happen again. Possibly to one part of the world and not in another. Some will suffer while others are spared. This is an unfortunate fact of life.
My hope is that the world takes this experience as an opportunity to truly appreciate our connectivity. To continue to guard the safety and wellbeing of not only ourselves but our fellow man. Whether we are shielding each other from a virus, or hatred and prejudice.
This week, I urge you to find just one way you can improve your or someone else’s life during this unimaginable time. Whether it be getting closer to your children, being kinder to your spouse, helping out your elderly neighbor, etc. No matter what, you can always be a force of good.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love