By Tim Trenkle
After WORLD WAR II, Victor Frankl emerged from the Nazi death camp Dachau with an unusual understanding. A Jew with an education in psychiatry, he lectured to his camp mates about losing their grip on goodness. He would later write about his insights, saying that choice matters, that choice is the one thing that cannot be taken.
He was concerned with freedom, meanings and responsibility.
My father returned from Dachau after the war, saying only that bodies were stacked like cordwood. He chose remembering as a moral act.
According to many, the issue that we have stripped our messages of virtue is foremost. Has the world become a place of meaningless messages? A place of violent imagery?
What about greater meanings? Life is sacred. Violence, consumption and technology are not.
A society that teaches power originates with technology has forgotten the power within the individual.
Who hasn’t had the conversation about being desensitized? By high-tech and media-driven messages.
Society has failed to teach the sacred, the virtues of life’s deeper meanings. Today, the individual feels empowered not from within by the ethics of the ancients but by the size of his checkbook or his advanced, military understanding that a winner is the one who can eliminate whatever is in the way.
Everywhere a senseless noise, burying children at our front doorsteps now, creates perversity that grows from the violent messages.
Nietzsche tells us if the violence of technology grows greater than our ethics, we are doomed.
It’s the messages that matter. The failure of media in movies, games and news is its incessant obsession with violence and the accompanying powerlessness as its consequence. We know better.
We are given Quentin Tarantino as a Mr. Cool role model, his messages of gore seen as a worthwhile tome from on high. Instead, virtue should the incessant message. Violence should be rebuked, given the face of immorality it deserves.
It’s not about guns but about minds and souls. About what is true and what is false.
True poverty concerns the failure of the heart. America today is impoverished by its failure to commit to its heritage of virtue and ethics.
Denial does not change that. Choice does.
The lessons of the Golden Rule are to honor, even as we must honor the dead, lessons for us all about love and respect, and a hope that holds meaning. We can choose to pass that forward.
l Tim Trenkle of Dubuque teaches psychology and writing at Northeast Iowa Community College. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org