In a series of meetings in 1941-42, leading Nazis met and decided the ‘Jewish problem’ needed to be solved. They resolved that every Jew in Europe should be killed, around 11 million people. The holocaust of World War 2 taught us that we should never underestimate the capacity for humans to consciously commit acts of evil. Here are two extreme wellbeing examples of how people refused to let their suffering turn them into people they are not!
- WE HAVE ONE FREEDOM, NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES
Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist, survived three years in four different concentration camps. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl was to poignantly observe: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that 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.” Frankl continued, “And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become moulded into the form of the typical inmate.”
- THE GOODNESS OF PEOPLE
The story of Anne Frank has been told many times. A child of the holocaust, she documented her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944. After she was captured, she spent her final days in Bergen-Belsen where she is believed to have died of typhus just months before the end of the war. She wrote: “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
There is a counselling model that reminds us of the relationship between how we think, feel and choose/act. Victor Frankl and Anne Frank are inspirational reminders of the need to manage the thoughts and feelings that so often determine our choices and actions. As Frankl put it:
…everything can be taken….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.
This article is reproduced with the permission of Vital Staff. For further information visit their website at http://www.vitalstaff.com.au/
Learning Leader: Formation