“What remained was the individual person, the human being – and nothing else. Everything had fallen away from him during those years: money, power, fame; nothing was certain for him anymore: not life, not health, not happiness; all had been called into question for him: vanity, ambition, relationships. Everything was reduced to bare existence. Burnt through with pain, everything that was not essential was melted down – the human being reduced to what he was in the last analysis: either a member of the masses, therefore no one real, so really no one – the anonymous one, a nameless thing (!), that ‘he ‘ had now become, just a prisoner number; or else he melted right down to his essential self. So, in the end, wasn’t there still something like a decision to be made? We should not be surprised, because ‘existence’ – to the nakedness and rawness of which the human being was returned – is nothing other than a decision.’Frankl, Viktor – Yes to Life… In Spite of Everything (1946)
On the one hand, individualism for its own sake, instead of “individuality for the human community”. This constant pressure to thrust oneself to the fore, to be autonomous and partial and perfectly self-contained – when we all yearn to be contained by others, to mean something to others so that we can mean something to ourselves. On the other, depersonalization – people as nothing more than members of a group, a class, a crowd, a mob. And then the feeding of this narcissism of the disenchanted, depersonalized individuals in masses, by feeding them some toxic cause or other.
Workism, exploitation and FOMO. People as mere “factors of production”, soulless automatons of labor. This dangerous insult to human dignity, this hypercompetitive mindset rooted in the toxic belief that one is worth only that which one can produce or monetize, that unproductive human lives are worthless – when it’s in fact this very obsession with productivity and achievement, with more and faster, that has destroyed our planet and depleted our human psyche. The fallacy of control, of entitlement, the exhausting pursuit of happiness as a goal in itself – as though life owes us something, as though life ever goes as planned. Life – this improbable miracle and overwhelming force – throttled and tamed by efficiency, becoming a subordinate of human ambition? Greed often comes from emptiness, chasing rewards is a sign of immaturity, and both are self-defeating because everything we pursue doggedly becomes only another task, another job, another obligation.
The refusal of inevitable suffering – and yet, real goodness is only made possible by people’s ability and willingness to endure, to get hurt and accept sacrifices. Because, more often than not, suffering and duty ARE meaning. As long as you have something or someone to suffer for. And, in some cases, “endurance itself is the greatest achievement.”
The Big Lies at the heart of propaganda, that we no longer learn how to identify and neutralize… A certain interpretation of “reality” sold to us (today, as before) incessantly through the media channels. All of this and more in Yes to Life by psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.
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