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Does Injustice Grant The Right To Do Wrong Or The Opportunity To Discover Inner Greatness?

Part 5 in an exploration of Viktor E. Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.

Rhonda Robinson


November 24, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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Traces of pain were embedded in his voice.

I instantly recognized the man as one of my long-time favorite recording artists, Steven Curtis Chapman. The woman sitting next to him was obviously his wife. Although I’d never seen her before, I knew the look on her face as well as my own. It was the blank stare of a grieving mother.

Then I heard her say to Robin Roberts on Good Morning America,

“I’ve said, you know, somewhat coldly, ‘I don’t care whose lives are touched by this story and whose lives are changed or what good comes of it.’ As the heart of a mom, I want Maria back.”

“And that’s — you know, that’s what I want people to know is I want Maria back.”

There’s just not enough good that can be done, to ease the pain of losing a child.

The Chapmans’ five-year-old daughter had died just a few months before that interview in 2008– the pain was still visibly raw. Little Maria died after being hit by a car in her own driveway. It was a tragic accident to say the least.

People often try to comfort grieving parents by trying to show them some good. Their attempts usually compound the pain rather than relieve it.

In the Chapmans’ case the “lives touched,” by their daughter’s death, are real not just a Hallmark sentiment. The Chapmans expanded their charity to add Maria’s Big House of Hope for special needs orphans. They have carved an immense amount of good out of their sorrow.

However, there are people who commit crimes of destruction and violence in the name of injustice on a daily basis. We’ve all seen them captured on film. What about rioting in the streets over issues as trivial as a lost sporting event? There seems to be an air of justification in too many of those instances.

If circumstances such as these can be justified in the least, what of the liberated prisoners of Auschwitz?

Frankl explains:

“We have to consider that a man who has been under such enormous mental pressure for such a long time is naturally in some danger after his liberation, especially since the pressure was released quite suddenly…the psychological counterpart of the bends.”

They now had a choice on how they would use their new freedom.

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Mrs. Robinson, what I will cryptically say may be more of a private exchange, though entailing a surprise for you. I too read and was thrilled by Frankl as a college student a few eons back. I too have sought meaning and wonder if that is not my undoing, i.e., if finding THE meaning is really enabling me to deny something. What? In the frenzy of my youthful search there appeared Ernest Becker and his "Denial of Death" and, more troubling, his "Escape from Evil [death]" (you have not got to that troubling book yet, blessed be the ignorant). Becker's fundamental thesis is that any search for overcoming death -- and what could offer more meaning --, is a search masking the correlative madness of the human condition, and will lead the seeker into a path of self-obfuscating inauthenticity and, on occasion to detructive behavior (and Frankl was a vicitm of a very special sort of denial of death focused upon Jews as THE supposed bringer of demise, a focuing, however insanely extreme, done by humans seeking meaning). The real showdown is the coming to terms with the source of evil--a source that remains in the best of us. The Grimm Reaper, as the Boroque culture knew after the 30 Years War, is just around the corner.

Becker, to make my story short, suggests that the only probably safe role in life is that of the saint. Why? In effect the "saint" (no official titled implied) ceases to seek after meaning, rather lets it find him or her. In a Christian context, Jesus hanging with agony from the Cross become emblamatic of the human condition and, if all is so a Christianity claims, Jesus becomes the Christ the savior, not you nor I nor anyone. (I, alas, even think that even the saintly do not fully escape from the ravages of evil)

In order to visualize my thesis I urgently suggest that you and any interested reader obtain the film "To End Alll Wars [= death infliction]", a film based upon the true story of British prisioners in a Japanese prisioner camp during WW II with all its pronounced brutality. A enormously important drama developes between the spirit of Bushido (= extreme form of meaning) and the spirit of Christianity (with its relinguishing of trying). The charcters were but the actors fighting out this drama. After the film ends, an added section shows an old and retired Princeton president, former prisioner, meeting in joy and reconciliation a very old Buddhist monk, a former guard in the prision--real persons--and you will see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears what I am trying to say.
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