We know Viktor Frankl's story because he wrote a seminal book: Man's Search for Meaning. He found meaning in the most demeaning of circumstances. When he was stripped naked and tortured, he discovered the last ultimate human freedom. He discovered that even though he didn't have liberty, he had the freedom to choose his response. He was response-able. This revelation changed his prison experience. Instead of fighting over food, instead of despair, he chose to share his food, to serve his fellow prisoners, to choose love.
He lived. He returned home. He wrote a book and traveled to the United States where he was moved by the Statue of Liberty. Yet, he was worried that people didn't understand that they could never have true liberty without responsibility. He proposed a Statue of Responsibility to be erected on the West Coast and it should have the same magnificence as the statue at the center of a New York harbor.
Along comes another man, another story. Steven R Covey was a man with a vision of success and habits. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People became a best seller. Covey is an admirer of Viktor Frankl and meets him. He visits his home in Austria. Frankl dies in 1997, but the man leaves an impression on Steven Covey. He is impressed to create the statue that Frankl might have envisioned. He hires a sculptor. A sculpture is created, but both men worry it may not have been Frankl's vision.
The sculptor, Gary Price, takes a small casted sculpture to Austria for Frankl's wife to see. When she sees the work of heart, she cries and leads the artist into Frankl's study where a wooden statue rests. The statue is of a suffering man who reaches heavenward with one arm. According to Frankl's widow, he had always asked, "Where is the hand reaching downward?" She said to Mr. Price, "Your statue has answered our question."
The arm reaching downward as well as the hand reaching upward--when both arms were tightly clasped, Mrs. Frankl knew her husband would have approved.
So far, 70 million dollars of the required 300 million has been raised for the Statue of Responsibility. West coast cities, Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, Seattle, and San Francisco have all put in silent bids for the privilege of fulfilling Viktor Frankl's dream. The sculpture will be the same size as the Statue of Liberty and will have a nine story foundation hopefully built with funds raised by schoolchildren--just like the Statue of Liberty. This desire will give schoolchildren the chance to be taught that liberty without responsibility is not true liberty.
Thanks to Catherine Covey for sharing this story with our classes today.