If Victor Frankl can have a good life in Auschwitz, then I can have a good life in the United States in 2023 and beyond.

I was talking to a good friend yesterday morning about our and other people’s attitudes to the world around us. We were both noting that some libertarian friends of ours, observing the various reductions in freedom in the United States and in the world generally, focused on these negatives and seemed in almost a perpetual state of despondency. I said that my view is that enough good things are happening, both on the freedom side and in life generally, that most of the time I’m the opposite of despondent.

Also, I said, I don’t know if the world will go from 40% crap to 60% crap or 80% crap. I also mentioned a mid-forties economist friend to whom I had said that and this young friend responded that it might even go to less crap, a distinct possibility. But whichever of those things happen, I said, I want to be around.

That reminded me of a book I finally read a few years ago after many people had recommended it to me over the years: Victor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl survived Auschwitz by, in part, maintaining a positive attitude. Yes, really.

One excerpt:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. (pp. 65-66)

I highly recommend Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s not quite as good as people over the years had led me to believe, but it’s 90% as good.

Addendum: I have another libertarian friend who’s about 10 years younger than me who sometimes says that he’s glad he won’t be around to see the mess 50 years from now. I’m the opposite: I would love to be around.