I’ve recently read through some really impactful books centered around the events of the Holocaust and WWII in Europe. Night by Elie Wiesel, Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl. All are first hand accounts of experiences during that tragedy….all lending to an entirely new perspective on life, purpose, suffering, meaning….tear jerking and thought provoking because of the harsh reality of that topic.
Victor Frankl was a know Austrian Psychologist whose major life work was his brain child, logotherapy. Before the Nazi’s came into Austria he was offered a chance to leave to the United States and further his work on a special visa, his elderly parents were elated because he was given the chance to escape what all knew was a coming nightmare. He was left with a difficult decision:
“It was then that I noticed a piece of marble lying on a table at home. When I asked my father about it, he explained that he had found it on the site where the National Socialists had burned down the largest Viennese synagogue. He had taken the piece home because it was a part of the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. One gilded Hebrew letter was engraved on the piece; my father explained that this letter stood for one of the Commandments. Eagerly I asked, ‘Which one is it?’ He answered, ‘Honor thy father and they mother that thy days may be long upon the land.’ At that moment I decided to stay with my father and my mother upon the land, and to let the American visa lapse.”
Frankl went on to experience some of the most horrific evils in human history. He lost his parents, saw death, suffering, hope stolen, innocence destroyed, a nightmare so dark in many ways when you read about it, it seems surreal, unfathomable. His decision to stay cost him dearly, but he did what was right. Life is but a flash in the pan and he was given a moment to make a choice. He chose to honor his father and his mother and stay with them.
One might say, “but he lost so much, he would have been better off going to America”. So it seems. But his last moments with his mom & dad will be in his mind forever. They felt the sacrifice of his decision…an overwhelming honoring of them. He did survive and did go on to finish his work even though his manuscript was lost in the early stages of sorting in the concentration camps.
In our world today where we are told so often to do “what is good for you”, to always be worried about “being taken care of”, to “look out for number one”, a story like this is refreshing. This example of what it means to “Honor thy Mother and Father” is the perfect embodiment of what Children of God, followers of Jesus are called to do. We should honor our fathers and mothers.