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Meaning, Values, and Human Dignity in Times of Crisis

A Time for Reflection on What Matters

By Luis A. Marrero, M.A., RODP, MLP. April 19, 2020

Listening and reading the news, as a student of history and psychology, I am concerned.

I read and hear politicians, business leaders, and broadcasters downplay and dismiss the deaths of countless during the coronavirus pandemic with a callousness that echoes the same values (or lack of) followed by the Nazis in the not too distant past century. According to the news, as the Nazis claimed, ultimately, what matters to these apologists during this crisis is not empathy, economic justice, and human dignity, but rather economic efficiency and human utility. Is it okay to disfranchise the vulnerable, such as the elderly, disable and minorities? Moreover, the language used implies that people are disposable. Their death, it seems, is a statistic rather than a tragedy. Did we miss learning the lesson from times past?

Meaningful Purpose Psychology (MP) – or its scientific name: Logoteleology – states that the meaning we give to another will be carried out. Furthermore, the opinions we hold of others and the actions that follow carry consequences. What do the reported attitudes say about leaders’ values when determining policy and making decisions?

MP’s meaning description and construct include the factor or element “value.” Values are ethical and moral standards that regulate behavior. Many choices are based on the values we hold. Values set priorities and guide decision making. Therefore, aware or not, during this crisis, government, media, and business leaders are showing their true “value colors.” Such values guide their decisions, and such choices carry consequence and accountability.

I encourage readers to take a moment to disengage from politics, and reflect on what set of values will best protect all of us. If we allow exceptions to human dignity, we are placing every human being at risk. The meaning or opinion we hold about any person should be founded in a love that upholds human dignity regardless of the condition in life. Our survival as a species depends on following the right values. I pray we collectively choose to follow the meaningful path.

“But today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in so doing blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness. If one is not cognizant of this difference and holds that an individual’s value stems only from his present usefulness, then, believe me, one owes it only to personal inconsistency not to plead for euthanasia along the lines of Hitler’s program, that is to say, ‘mercy’ killing of all those who have lost their social usefulness, be it because of old age, incurable illness, mental deterioration, or whatever handicap they may suffer. Confounding the dignity of man with mere usefulness arises from conceptual confusion that in turn may be traced back to the contemporary nihilism transmitted on many an academic campus and many an analytical couch.” ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frank

Copyright 2020. Luis A. Marrero, M.A., RODP, MLP, Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose

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