Normally, I stay out of politics. But listening to and/or reading various news feeds from around the world (USA, Italy, UK and others) seem to imply that a lot of people worldwide are concerned that this man Donald Trump is going to cause serious global problems.
This concern brings to mind the life’s work of a man I respect. This “average guy” was a successful professional psychiatrist in the early days of that profession. He happened to be Jewish, so he got stuffed into a concentration camp. Everything around him was endlessly dreadful, scary, and difficult. He saw things that few humans alive today can even really imagine.
Naturally, he had the same human response to catastrophe and suffering as any normal person would. But rather than stay feeling afraid or angry, it slowly dawned on him: the only power he had left was the ability to control his mind.
He decided – made a conscious choice – to start thinking about what he would do when he got out. It was probably pretty hard to think about what good things were going to happen while so many around him were sick or dying. Would he even survive? What did he have to go home to?
Eventually, he started wondering about finding meaning in the suffering. Not “global meaning”, which so many of us waste our lives thinking about under the the label of “Why did this happen to me?”. But personal meaning. He thought about, “What can I do to give this horrific experience meaning?”
He decided that when he got out, he would dedicate his life to making sure – to the best of his ability – that such genocide would never happen again.
He did survive. He wrote a powerful book called, “Man’s Search for Meaning“, in which he talks about how taking responsibility for his own thoughts, choosing to control them, and seeking meaning in the hardship are what helped him survive. His name is Dr. Viktor Frankl.
All you’ve got is your own brain. You can’t even control the flow of traffic. You can’t control how many people are in line in front of you. You can’t even control your own children! All we can control is our thoughts, and the choices we make.
The decisions we make in our minds determine the actions we take in the outer world, how we feel about ourselves and our level of peace or joy with what’s going on around us.
If you’re afraid of what might happen in the world, seek personal meaning in that fear and choose to apply your mind constructively to solutions.
If you are going through a negative, difficult or even horrible time in your life, whittle away at the negative emotions by catching them, rearranging them and using them to push you to think about what your options are, what you can do, how you can choose to feel, what you’d like to have happen after you survive this.
Sadly, the Holocaust was not the end of genocide. There will always be people who think their way is the only way, and that they have the right to bully, belittle, hurt or even kill others. “Might makes right”. Your choice as a concerned citizen of the world is to focus on what good, what meaning can come out of your experience and then make the best choice in this and every moment of your life.