Meaninglessness & Desperation

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau

As people enter their late 60s and early 70s, I often see how their lives really are one of quiet desperation. They sensed some meaning while working and while raising children - but now? Those who can afford it, are in a feverish race to travel as much as possible before illness and infirmity enforce a degree of stillness. Some are still caring for elderly, infirm parents. Others are themselves dealing with the effects of illness & aging.

Individually and as a society, we seem adrift without a rudder, compass or map without a clue about what's truly meaningful in life. Many well-educated, (conventionally) intelligent, well-respected people today feel intense discomfort, even alone or with close friends, should any topic of depth such as: meaning, wisdom, or spirituality arise. Even common terms like mindfulness or meditation quickly elicit uncomfortable jokes.

In this age of information overload & newstertainment, we're bombarded by TV-evangelist hucksters, pedophile priests, political leaders more hideous than villains in a Batman movie, and on it goes. So, many of us have 'thrown the baby out with the bathwater' - become cynical and profoundly incompetent about all deeply meaningful matters. Many of us have lost even the aspiration to aim high, to search for the best in life. And yet, there are amazingly inspiring, exceptionally intelligent role models who shed light on the best in us. One of these was Viktor Frankl.

In 1946, after surviving four Nazi concentration camps in which his young pregnant wife, brother and both parents perished, Frankl wrote "Man's Search for Meaning" describing how he endured the camps, and how we can find meaning in the face of suffering. Compared to Frankl, most of us have no idea about suffering, yet experience "quiet desperation" because of meaninglessness - "the most common ailment of our times". We need to educate & heal ourselves! A good place to start is CBC radio's documentary on Viktor Frankl's work:

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