“Hey, kid, wait!”
“What is it?” he said, as he walked away.
“WAIT!” I shouted, “I am not your enemy. Why does it always have to be like this with you?”
“Like this? What do you mean, Mr. Time Traveler from the Future, if that is even a real thing?”
“Black and White. With you, everything is black and white at all times.”
“What if everything is black and white? Why do you care so much?” he said while shrugging his shoulders.
“Don’t tell me you forgot again?”
“Huh? I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“How many times do I have to remind you? Damn it, kid! What are you? A goldfish?”
“You do realize I still have no clue about what you are talking about, right?”
“Aaah, there is no helping it. I guess I have to remind you AGAIN 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.”
— Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl survived the atrocities of 4 Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He, among a minority of other prisoners, survived a physical and mental prison of human suffering. In his teachings of logotherapy, he stated that suffering is meaningless. But suffering can be meaningful by the way in which we respond to it.
A large majority of prisoners around Frankl despised life. They believed their best times in life were already behind them. They treated life as something meaningless. A warm memory of the past, sweet like the best summer of their lives, the last summer of their lives. They doomed their future to an exclusivity of bitterness and winter.
Those people could take the experiences at the concentration camp as a call to action. As an opportunity to test their limits and strength. A test for the limitlessness and adaptability of humanity. Instead, they responded to life’s call with idleness. Life gave up on them like they gave up on life. Those people were the first to collapse or the first to qualify as “weak” and “expendable.” Frankl noted that there is a close connection between the state of mind of a man and the state of immunity of his body. To the degree, that lack of courage and hope can have a deadly effect. I argue, perhaps like a chain reaction, when their minds broke, so did their spirits. And a broken spirit was the chainsaw that broke their bodies. A broken link between life and death.
A link so small and tight, it fits in a single letter or a three-letter word. A “y” or a “why.” An inch is all it takes and its presence or absence.
“I shall die here. Every last inch of me shall perish. Except one. An inch. It’s small and it’s fragile and it’s the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.”
— Valerie, V for Vendetta(2005)
Other prisoners searched and found meaning in the experiences of the concentration camps. When other prisoners saw defeat, these prisoners saw an opportunity for growth. A step to ascend to something bigger than them. A step they could take upon believing in something larger than them. Or a step they could take by believing in something great within them.
This minority of prisoners had a why. When they couldn’t change the situation, they changed themselves. They transformed a personal struggle to a personal triumph, and apathy to victory. These struggles were the basis for something beautiful to arise. Just like Parthenon emerged from an ugly rock and dirty soil.
If there is a why there is a will. People who had a why overpowered the dullness and pointlessness of their life’s situation. They used their spiritual freedom and chose to attach meaning to a meaningless suffering. They applied their will.
Willpower is a superpower. The fourth superpower in the series ‘Superhumans of Tomorrow.’ And the source of this superpower is always a strong why.
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
“O Light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of Winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.”
— Albert Camus, Return to Tipasa(1952)
“Aaah, there is no helping it. I guess I should remind you AGAIN that life shouldn’t be, just black and white. There is also color. How could you forget all about it AGAIN?”
“We had this exact conversation before, didn’t we?”
“Yes! A million times…”
“Hmmm, I think I remember bits and pieces. But what is color?
“Yes, color is the light that travels at different speeds. Light is made of electromagnetic waves, and different wavelengths create different colors. But there is one condition that is always the same. To see color, you have to have light.”
“What is light then?”
“Light is having a why. If there is a why there is a will. A will to act.”
“Oh, silly me. How could I forget? Don’t you ever get tired of me?”
“Well…, At times I get sick of coming back from the future and having this same conversation with you. But you always seem lost and without a clue of where you want to go and how to get there. You asked me why I care so much. It’s because there must always be a WHY. There needs to be light.”
“I hate to ask about this too, but what is wrong with not having any color sometimes?”
“Listen, kid. A dark, calm, and peaceful night should do. Same goes for a quality black and white movie or life with only one color, white, and no sound at all.”
“That’s my point exactly! Peace, calmness, silence.”
“HEY, I am not done talking. Don’t interrupt your elders!”
“Okay, okay, Mr. drama queen. I am sorry.”
“As I was saying before your interruption, such a night and a movie or a life should do. But take my word when I say there is nothing compared to a night full of life. A night with bright stars and fireworks, explosions and laughter. A dazzling, colorful night with a melody and sound.”
“Let’s say I trust you. What do I do now?”
“Trust the light and the sound to show you the right path to follow in the night. When there is a why there is a will, and when there is a will there is a way.”
“But what do I do exactly?”
“LIGHT IT UP.”
CALL TO ACTION
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