Victor Frankl witnessed the worst of humanity.
After surviving a Nazi concentration camp, he wrote about what suffering taught him about living.
He lived as the consumer society was arriving at full speed. He watched people do whatever their hearts desired to give them pleasure. Some ate large amounts. Others spent on trinkets.
He commented on this pursuit of pleasure:
Let us imagine a man who has been sentenced to death and, a few hours before his execution, has been told he is free to decide on the menu for his last meal. The guard comes into his cell and asks him what he wants to eat, offers him all kinds of delicacies; but the man rejects all his suggestions. He thinks to himself that it is quite irrelevant whether he stuffs good food into the stomach of his organism or not, as in a few hours it will be a corpse. And even the feelings of pleasure that could still be felt in the organism’s cerebral ganglia seem pointless in view of the fact that in two hours they will be destroyed forever.
But the whole of life stands in the face of death, and if this man had been right, then our whole lives would also be meaningless, were we only to strive for pleasure and nothing else—preferably the most pleasure and the highest degree of pleasure possible. Pleasure in itself cannot give our existence meaning; thus, the lack of pleasure cannot take away meaning from life, which now seems obvious to us.
It is not new, only rediscovered truth.
Solomon conducted a grand experiment on life. He dove into unlimited pleasure.
“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” (Ecclesiastes 2:1–2).
After searching and sifting, he arrived at a conclusion.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Society can get us caught in the whirlpool of things and events that provide a cotton candy life. It tastes good and then is gone.
Life contains more than our goods, our feelings, and our excitement. Unless built on something lasting, it crumbles. The word Solomon used was “meaningless.”
Investigate your life. Is it worth anything lasting?
-Robert G. Taylor-