30 Minute Meditations on Being Human from the Life and Writings of Viktor Frankl, Day 20: Freedom Presupposes Responsibility

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Statue of Liberty

Lesson for the Day on Dr. Frankl’s Observations of the Popular Misconception of Freedom in America: True freedom must be exercised responsibly. In other words, freedom is not a license to do whatever anyone wants, which is acting irresponsibly.

“Responsibleness has two intentional referents. It refers to a meaning for whose fulfillment we are responsible, and also to a being before whom we are responsible. Therefore the sound spirit of democracy is but one-sidedly conceived of if understood as freedom without responsibleness.

“Freedom threatens to degenerate into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. I like to say that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast should be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Source: Viktor E. Frankl, The Will of Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy (New York, N.Y.: New American Library, 1969, 1st printing 1970), p. 49. Italics are mine.