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Tag Archives: Viktor Frankl

I Have Realities in My Past

via I Have Realities In My Past

One of the first classes I took in my doctoral journey introduced me to Viktor Frankl‘s work and finding meaning in one’s life, which is the primary reason we live.

In his post, Kevin shares a quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning.” We search for and discover meaning in ways unique to each of us. That search/quest is not someone else’s, even though there may be shared characteristics.

Frankl survived the horrors of Auschwitz believing his wife was alive, often hearing her speak to him. As it turned out, she died during her internment, but it was her daemon nature that gave him reasons to live and press on. Many of us would say our spouse/partner gives us reasons to live and that would be true, but it is in different ways than Frankl and others.

Differences make a difference.

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Freedom to choose

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space there is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. ~Viktor Frankl Sometimes we make decisions in t…

Source: Freedom to choose

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist who developed a school of psychiatry called logotherapy which is the search for meaning in life. He used his experiences as a Holocaust survivor to help inform his findings.

Humans choose their responses and seek life’s meaning. When we lose our meaning in life, we drift, feeling rudderless and without mooring. What keeps us grounded is the choices we make in life and the meaning we find in life. For example, becoming a teacher, a farmer, a parent, etc. gives life purpose and calls us to take action.

We express who we are through responding to the continuous calling, the vocation, that we find through various meaningful roles. When and if we find our life’s meaning, it allows us to make a difference in the world, for other sentient beings, and for the non-sentient elements of the world. We care for all aspects of the world and feel connected to it

Thomas Merton suggested some humans find there calling and others search throughout life, unable to find it. Perhaps, it is they do not hear what calls them and are unable to respond. Mindfulness and silence open spaces to hear the calls that give our lives meaning and make living meaningful.

Community and Servant-Leadership

Community has been a recurring theme throughout the World Café conversations and events, with many descriptors alluding to communal practices and relationships needed for learning to happen. Reciprocity, connection, supportive, affirmation, and other words expressing interactions suggest community. The summary posters of the March 17, 2012 World Café Event confirmed this recurring theme of community and the table posters, to being posted, also bear this out. The theme of community is important not just in learning, but in life itself. Without community, can life and learning be as meaningful?

Parker Palmer recently shared in a Facebook posting: “Community does not mean living face-to-face with others—it means never losing the awareness that we are connected with each other…”

The servant-leadership conference I attend in Portland reinforced that, although community continually evolves, as a value it can remain intact. Here are some examples.

Professor Shann Ferch, from Gonzaga, spoke about the “beloved community” that the late Martin Luther King so eloquently referred to. It is the necessity to see each other, including oppressors and those who have done harm to us, as human. Dr. Ferch also quoted Viktor Frankl: “We are made to turn outward, toward another human being to whom we can love and give ourselves. … Only when in service of another does a person truly know his or her humanity.”

We easily dismiss these references to community as the extreme and needed actions and words of those in different settings. After all, Dr. King led the Civil Rights movement in its halcyon days and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Dr. Frankl survived the atrocities of concentration camps during World War II. What do their experiences have to do with simply getting through the day?

Kirk Young, a colleague from Gonzaga, elaborated on what could be understood as community in the form of a value. The communities we choose to belong to share one common ingredient: intimacy. Ferdinand Tonnies, a German sociologist, used the word gemeinschaft and described this form of community as “a tighter and more cohesive social entity. [It is] exemplified in family and kinship” suggesting when humans gather in community, intimate experiences are shared. Members share the good, the bad, and grow together towards common purposes, thus are mission driven. Values and mission serve as glue for community.

Father John Dear, a Jesuit priest, proposed in The Rebel Jesus, a second, mostly unnoticed miracle occurred during the Sermon on the Mount: the forming of community. Community allowed people to see the human nature of each other as Jesus instructed those closest to him to organize the large group (some believe well over 5,000 people) into small, more intimate groupings of about 50 people. Father Dear suggested that in these small communities, people interacted differently and shared as they made connections with those now close to them. People were no longer strangers; because moments before they were simply part of a large and increasingly hungry throng. In contemporary parlance, they were statistics.

By witnessing the humanity in each other, we form community and share intimacy without fear. Our humanity is the one thing we share with others and through it, we find purpose to gather and create community around the universality of human values and the value of humans.

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