Our Search For Meaning
March 10, 2015
It's hard to look back on the past 30 years and not notice our narcissism and greed.
Our "best and brightest" didn't land men on the moon. We didn't unravel DNA. We didn't join the Peace Corps, or even work in government.
We didn't build dams, roads, or bridges. We don't even want to pay to maintain this infrastructure that our much-less-privileged grandparents built during the Great Depression.
Millions of our generation didn't volunteer to risk our lives, to give our lives, to save the world from fascism.
We didn't find a cure for polio and then give it away -- in fact, most of us would find that idea ludicrous. Look at what you can charge for cancer treatments! Salk turned his back on a fortune because it was the right thing to do to. What an idiot.
Most of our smartest minds, many of our best educated, went into finance, working as Wall Street investment bankers or hedge fund operators.
They used their prodigious gifts to create complex financial derivatives that allowed them to produce incredible personal fortunes by betting against the very products they sold to their unsuspecting customers.
In fact, most didn't produce anything at all that was of benefit to the rest of us.
They profited by shipping more and more jobs overseas, and then spent millions paying tax specialists to use every loophole and trick to avoid paying tax in the United States.
How would you describe someone who can watch others in need -- many of whom were put in their current position by his actions -- and blithely carry on, without a pang of guilt or conscience, cocooned in his chauffeur-driven Lincoln town car?
Our industry isn't much better. Those running radio companies now achieve bonuses by cutting employees and salaries (not theirs, of course), by diminishing their commitment to local communities, thinking so little of these listeners in smaller markets that they believe they've fooled them.
All of which makes this man all the more remarkable.
Brilliant and well-educated, his time didn't permit the narcissism of our age. You see, he was Jewish, and he, his wife and family were all sent to concentration camps. His wife and parents died there.
But literally from the ashes of his suffering and despair, he found the meaning of his life.
He understood that even under his circumstances, life could have purpose.
Struggling to survive Auschwitz, not knowing his beloved wife had already been killed at Bergen-Belsen, listen to his words:
"The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world may still know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved."
"In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way -- an honorable way -- in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment."
How then can we be so selfish?
How then can we ignore our purpose?
How can we not at least try to strike the spark that may lift another?