Aug 5, 2020 in Literature

book Comparative Literature

Human life revolves around finding the inner meaning of life and following the desires of one’s heart even when future is absolutely mysterious. Thus, people are brought up knowing that there are things they will do at their young age, and there are things that they need to avoid when they grow old. Women, just like men, have their limits of behaviors that they should avoid as they grow old. There are some things that just do not fit in the identity and dignity of certain ages. In short, finding the meaning of life and responsibilities that come with being a man needs a thorough soul searching, which at times leads to confusion in behavior. Gay and lesbians are human beings who understand the meaning of life differently from the rest, and their identity amongst themselves is a matter of inner thoughts and analysis. Freedom is derived from understanding the meaning of life and holding on to the goals even when suffering surpasses hope, since identity is derived from the inner person.

Understanding the meaning of life entails hanging on to what you believe and holding on to your destiny even when things are not certain for you. It involves inner strength and focuses on one primary objective which seems to relate to the basic understanding of oneself. For example, in spite of the horrific treatment and experience Viktor Frankl got in the camp, he was still determined to stand strong and challenge his captors that he cannot just give up. Holding on to your faith and destiny gives one some inner sense of attachment to that goal, so that the battle becomes personal and more energy is directed towards protecting what one loves. In spite of the world condemning and criminalizing gay and lesbian practices, people who feel oriented towards the acts still hold on to their goals and no intimidation can make them relent. Goals are made to be achieved, and it is almost obvious that for them to be pursued, there must be challenges that will involve pain and agony, but a person must push on to his/her destiny no matter what happens.


Viktor Frankl refused to let his captors break his spirit, and he was holding on to the belief that in order to achieve freedom, people must go through pain and emerge victoriously. This feeling of being in a race to destiny gave him more energy to withstand punishment and torment in the camp. The meaning of life is hidden in understanding every situation, as the Existentialists argue that, “To live is to suffer while to survive through finding the real meaning of that suffering.” This, according to Viktor Frankl, is what keeps people going towards understanding the meaning of their lives. Gay and lesbian community live through stigma and discrimination, according to Heinz Heger, but they keep going because they have understood the meaning of suffering to their destiny. Finding the meaning of suffering is a process of understanding why one had to suffer to reach his/her destiny. Currently, there are registered gay and lesbian societies in different countries, and were it not for the perseverance of their founders, the amount of suffering they undergone could have changed their minds. 

Logotherapy is the process through which individuals understand the meaning of their lives and the purpose for which they should endure all the sufferings. In this process, an individual will be fed with conflicting situations which may include suffering, so that they can be able to stick to one that best suits them. According to Viktor Frankl, a man’s search for life meaning is the principal motivation that runs throughout his life and not just a mere rationalization of the drivers of his instincts. This statement means that every man has to dig deeper in the process of searching for the meaning of his life and not just take it as an act of going extra steps in making life better. In fact, understanding the meaning of life should come before anything else, since it is the core objective and not an extra effort. The meaning is usually unique and primary to the person’s life and can only be discovered by him alone. Even if there are situations which come to make people understand themselves more, it is a responsibility for everyone to make an effort and find out what their purpose in life is and what their destiny holds for them in future. 

Finding the meaning of life, according to Viktor Frankl, is difficult and logotherapy is the most effective way, since some people get desperate to a point of contemplating self-destructive ideas like suicide. Viktor Frankl dismissed the famous Freudian mechanism of psychoanalysis as being less introspective and less affirmative, as compared to logotherapy. The main intention of the prison establishment is to hold people captive both physically and mentally and make them lose their stand on identity and destiny. However, there are those instances where people go to prison for a course that they do not wish to let go shortly. For example, people are held in camps and given humiliating identities so that they can feel ashamed and change their course of actions, but there are also those who stand by their beliefs and never feel intimidated. In 1934 concentration camps in Germany, people who were arrested for being associated with homosexuality were given identities which humiliated them in front of other prisoners. Letter A was visible on their uniforms to mean that the individual is a follower of the anal-sex community. This was an insult to them, but they pushed on with their cry for freedom until most of them died in camps. This letter was later replaced by the pink triangle identity mark.

The pink triangle has been internationally recognized as the identity of gay and lesbian community, but very little is understood about persons who suffered in camps wearing it. This means that for one to get the meaning of life and understand identity, he/she is ought to seek the foundation of that identity and get to know who the pioneers were and what objective they had in mind. The foundation of conflict between police and gay community in 1940’s was a quest for recognition and identity. This is according to Heinz Heger, who argues that people who survived the punishment and torture in the concentration camps felt victorious after their identity was internationally recognized using the pink triangle, but their suffering never ended. This means that when one finds the meaning of his/her life and aligns him/herself with something to give them identity does not mean that this person is free from trouble since challenges are all in the process. 

In the quest for understanding the meaning of life, people are tempted to turn brutal against each other. This is exhibited by brutality with some Jewish prisoners against their people when they realized that they could work with captors and secure their freedom. This shows that freedom can be found in different situations and under different circumstances, but not all means are ethical. As Existentialists say, “To live is to suffer while to survive is through finding the real meaning of that suffering,” understanding pain and agony is not enough to make one betray his people. The best freedom is the one that is won through struggle and not the one that is given in exchange for something else. Gay prisoners stood their ground in concentration camps and even when some of them died the others never relented on their stand. 

According to Heinz Heger, gates of the prison camps bore the slogan which was the foundation of meaning behind the prisoners’ suffering. ‘Freedom through work’ was the slogan that prisoners associated themselves with since the only way to avoid beating was through being busy with work. Prison camps were structured in a way that there were significant punishment and torture to make people withdraw from their beliefs. However, despite the daily deaths and injuries of the pink triangle prisoners, the remnants pushed on and held on to their sexual orientation until prison bosses were replaced and they found their peace. The question that Viktor Frankl asked was that, “Why do some people betray their kind to survive?” this follows the turn of events in camps where some Jewish prisoners cooperated with the wardens in punishing fellow prisoners in a way of finding rest and a break from torture. Understanding the meaning of life helps a person to identify themselves with an identity-giving situation which they defend with all their heart, since it represents their inner self. For example, people suffering in camps for issues relating to gay sexual orientation were not willing to abandon their beliefs, since it represented their inner self and could only be understood by the members.

Each situation in life comes with a bundle of challenges which a man must strive to overcome for him to understand his true identity. A man should never ask what the meaning of his life is since he is responsible for finding out and explaining it. In other words, he is the one who is supposed to be asked that question, and it is expected that he should have an answer to it. This can be interpreted to mean that life questions every man, and the only way to answer is to address his life, and this can only be done through being responsible and sticking to a definite identity. Being a gay is an identity which is sexually defined, and once a man is in that group, he can only answer to himself on how and why he got there. The rest of the world can decide to criticize and condemn him for being negatively oriented according to the social norms, but no amount of intimidation or punishment can be enough to make him denounce his identity since it is a reflection of his inner self. 

According to logotherapy, a man can be able to discover the meaning of his life through three distinct procedures as discussed below: first, he can discover the meaning of life by analyzing his actions. This is where a man conducts himself in a manner that exhibits his inner-self makes him realize who he is from the inside, as well as what his identity might be. Secondly, the meaning of life can be discovered through experience with somebody or something. In other words, having an encounter that is not very common may make somebody realize the meaning of their life, since there are incidences which challenge a man to extreme levels and provoke his inner strength to act, thus making him realize his identity and meaning of his life. For example, a man may find himself in danger when a house is burning, and he can hear people screaming from inside and just by making an attempt to rescue, he discovers that his life was meant to be used in the rescue of others.

 People discover their talents in some unexpected situations and understand the meaning of their lives. The third way of discovering the meaning of life is through an attitude towards imminent suffering. This is where a man endures suffering in the quest for an objective. The attitude that drives him in the struggle and through suffering is what will make him understand himself, as well as the meaning of his life. For example, the homosexuals who were labeled with the pink triangle went through suffering and most of them endured until death, and they never even imagined of denouncing their sexual orientation, as it was the intention of punishers. The attitude towards suffering for a just course made them realize themselves and the meaning of their lives. These are some situations where a man has a choice to evade suffering, but they decide to continue holding on to their belief until they die fighting for it with a positive attitude. 

Attitude is a significant foundational element towards understanding the meaning of life. Thousands of people died in the concentration camps, but the remnants were still optimistic that they would have their freedom one day and tell the whole world that their mates died fighting for a just course. However, as the punishments became severe, some Jews decided to find easier means of avoiding suffering through betraying others. This did not give them the meaning they were seeking since they deviated from the course of their destiny and the outcome was adverse to others, as it was to them too. In other words, this was an exhibition that there can never be freedom without understanding the meaning of life since there is no life without a destiny. 

Viktor Frankl defines situations where people have deviated from the old ways of finding their identity and meaning of their life and are now consulting medical experts with questions of their destiny. According to Viktor Frankl, teaching a man that he is nothing but a mere product of psychological, biological and sociological elements are dangerous. This leads to a condition he calls nothingbutness, which offers a theological explanation that a man is a product of the hereditary, environmental components. This perspective shows that a man is supposed to be driven by the environment, since he is a product of its dynamics and this is where the meaning of life is lost for individuals. People are not created the same, and their inner sense of identity is different. Thus, the nothingbutness cannot be taken to be an ideal condition. 

In conclusion, freedom is derived from understanding the meaning of life, and holding on to the goals even when suffering surpasses hope, since identity is derived from the inner person. This is evident from suffering and intimidation as well as the temptations that people in the concentration camps went through trying to survive. Viktor Frankl and Heinz Heger explain situations where a man is tempted to change his mind about what he believes in, but the quest for the meaning of his life keeps him pushing. Understanding what the destiny holds for a man demands that he carries out should searching and asks himself what he is meant to do in life. The only way to answer the question of what the meaning of life revolves around experiencing challenging and intimidating situations where one is tempted to relent and change the course, but the inner person refuses to give up. The best form of freedom is the one that is earned through the struggle to the end, and not when one bribes his way through the system to be free. This is what kept gay prisoners holding on to their identity till they were killed in camps still believing that they will be free one day.


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