Those with a higher purpose
can suffer meaningfully,
thus not truly suffering.
Those without a higher purpose
might suffer meaninglessly,
thus truly suffering.
We know today more than ever, how far ‘Grub first, then ethics’ can take us… But we know how meaningless it is to guzzle away without any morality and how catastrophic the meaninglessness can be to anyone who is fixated only on consumption…
[W]e know how much ‘morality’ means: the unshakeable belief in an unconditional meaning to life, that, one way or another, makes life bearable. Because we have experienced the reality that human beings are truly prepared to starve if starvation has a purpose or meaning.
However, we have not only witnessed how hard it is to starve if one had no ‘morality’, but we have also seen how hard it is to demand morality form a human being if one lets him starve. Once I had to give the court a psychiatric report on an adolescent boy, who — in the midst of an extremely desperate situation — had stolen a loaf of bread; the court concerned had asked the precise question of whether the boy was ‘inferior’ or not.
In my report I had to admit, from a psychiatric point of view, he could not be considered inferior in any way. But I did not do this without, at the same time, explaining that in his specific situation he would have had to have been ‘superior’ in order to withstand temptation in the face of such hunger!
[Note: True morality remains truly moral despite drastic situations. Only when tested is it truly revealed, that one is morally superior or inferior.]
Viktor E. Frankl
Yes to Life in Spite of Everything