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  • After the initial shock this morning when I woke up and saw the results of the election, three things pressed on my mind: Freedom, Creativity, and Viktor Frankl.

    Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and even thriver. He wrote about his concentration camp experience in a book he called “Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything.”

    What audacity, right? "In spite of everything.”

    Today (more than) half of us are feeling funky, depressed, perplexed, even in mourning. Is this really happening?

    Three things:
    1. Yes, it is.
    2. Feel the pain. Feel it to its full extent.
    3. Consider Viktor Frankl.

    Frankl felt the pain of his circumstance, observed his surroundings, and then got busy creating a practical philosophy of life that helped thousands of prisoners choose life over suicide and in turn experience a profound sense of meaning.

    Frankl said that “everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

    He also said that to find meaning a person needs to do at least two things: create a project to work on, and experience something or encounter someone.

    I watched Stephen Colbert’s final thoughts on the election last night. It was intriguing. At one point he suggests we kiss a Democrat and hug a Republican. Colbert was just saying we should consider doing what Viktor Frankl suggested 60 years ago: “encounter someone”, experience the other.

    For some unknown reason, late this morning after the shock started to die down (I process things fairly quickly) I had a strong urge to create something, to get to work on a string of projects that last the next few years. My first reaction to a perceived injustice is to wallow in misery. But my second reaction, a deeper gut reaction, is to get busy doing the only thing I know how to do, which is making stuff.

    If what you want is for your chosen candidate to win the election, or for your way of life to be legitimized by the government, then hit the streets, try to convince people to become a Democrat or Libertarian or Communist, or vote the same way you vote. Evangelize, convince, proselytize. Seriously. Go for it. It might work. You've got 4 years to recruit people so that next time your team will be the winners. At least you're doing something. It's better than complaining for the next 50 months.

    But another option is to flip the bird to needing some outside authority to guide your decisions, feelings, or actions. Whichever of your freedoms may or may not be taken by Authority Figure, you have at least the last human freedom: to choose your own attitude in any given set of circumstances. This doesn't come from a privileged white American, it comes from a concentration camp survivor who decided to say yes to life in spite of everything.
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