30 Minute Meditations on Being Human from the Life and Writings of Viktor Frankl, Day 11: Sacrificial Love

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Viktor Frankl, M.D.

Lesson for the Day: A person ‘s life finds meaning in sacrificial love, that is, giving up something worthwhile for the sake of others.

“… [S]hortly before Pearl Harbor, I was asked to come to the American Consulate to pick up my visa. Then I hesitated. Should I leave my parents behind? I knew what their fate would be: deportation to a concentration camp. Should I say goodbye, and leave them to their fate? The visa applied to me alone.

“Undecided, I left home, took a walk, and had this thought: ‘Isn’t this the kind of situation that requires some hint from heaven?’ When I returned home, my eyes fell on a little piece of marble lying on the table.

“‘What’s this’ I asked my father.

“‘This? Oh, I picked it out of the rubble of the synagogue they have burned down. It has on it part of the Ten Commandments. I can even tell you from which commandment it comes. There is only one commandment that uses the letter that is chiseled here.’

“‘And that is…?’  I asked eagerly.

“Then father gave me this answer: ‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’

“Thus I stayed ‘upon the land’ with my parents, and let the visa lapse.”

Meaning of the Quote: Viktor Frankl decides to stay in Austria, entering the concentration camps with his family.

Source: Viktor E. Frankl,  Viktor Frankl Recollections: An Autobiography, trans. Joseph Fabry and Judith Fabry (New York, N.Y.: Plenum Press, 1997), pp. 82-83.

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