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When we think all is lost, No, our freedom to Choose still remains.
on 14 October 2017
I came across this book from a brief mentioning of it in the book The Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller. I read it in kindle. Even though one may have an idea how the life a prisoner would be in a Concentration camp, shivers ran through my spine as I read and I was deeply moved for those prisoners who were subjected to extreme tortures.
I quote some of the lines from the author which can show the gravity of their sufferings, “It is very difficult for an outsider to grasp how very little value was placed on human life in camp………….Those who have not gone through a similar experience can hardly conceive the soul-destroying mental conflict and clashes of will power which a famished man experiences…………Reality dimmed, and all efforts and all emotions were centered on one task: preserving one’s own life and that of the other fellow………..Step by step we had to become accustomed to a terrible and immense horror…………The most depressing influence of all was that a prisoner could not know how long his term of imprisonment would be. He had been given no date for his release……….Actually a prison term was not only uncertain but unlimited……….It was impossible to foresee whether or when, if at all, this form of existence would end……….The suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little.”
The mind set which kept the author alive is better read in his own words. He says, “In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen………..What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life……..it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us…..we could say that most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did majority of prisoners.”
For outsiders, it’s very easy to talk about Optimism while sitting in a comfortable couch, with a roof on top, food on table, surrounded by loved ones with a secured life. It’s easy to talk when life favorably looks upon us and the weather is bright.
But the Optimism carries weight when it comes from the mouth of a person who had come out alive from a virtual hell. It is indeed an achievement to hold on to dear life with hope when all the odds were stacked against him, when he never knew that he will live to see freedom. When such a person speaks of what kept him alive and kicking that he “beat the odds” and came out victorious, it is a lesson for all of us.
I have no hesitation in giving 5 stars