Friday, July 15, 2005

Frankl & Earnest

I recently read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning for the first time (having been reminded of it by hearing Fr. George Rutler mention Frankl in a sermon) and I recommend it to everyone. It's right up there with Witness (see upper left) as one of the most inspiring books I've ever read.

Towards the end of the book, Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor, describes how concentration-camp life brought out the worst in some—but yet led others, such as Maximilian Kolbe (whom he mentions by name), to display the nature of saints.

I single out the following quotation to refute relativists who claim that we are wrong to urge others to reach higher, who say that the answer to problems caused by falling moral standards is simply to recalibrate standards to a lower level.

Frankl writes:

You may be prone to blame me for invoking examples that are the exceptions to the rule. "Sed omnia praeclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt" (but everything great is just as difficult as it is rare to find) reads the last sentence of the Ethics of Spinoza. You may of course ask whether we really need to refer to "saints." Wouldn't it suffice just to refer to decent people? It is true that they form a minority. More than that, they always will remain a minority. And yet I see therein the very challenge to join the minority. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.