In short: a prisoner seemed to escape from Auschwitz. Ten random men from his bunker were chosen to die. Among them Franciszek, a Polish peasant who cried for his wife and children. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest from the same bunker asked to take his place. The commander granted the request. 10 days with no food and he was still alive. Then the executioner injected phenol to his arm and he died.
Although incredibly sad, it’s an uplifting story. Some Catholic sites claim this will make your belief in Christ/Catholicism stronger. As for me, it’s a booster to believe in (exceptional) individuals.
I visit the Auschwitz camp (or at least its entrance) often because of my work. And even at home this story often comes to my mind. It’s a story that happened only once in the history of Auschwitz and I could never understand why the SS leader allowed someone to become a martyr there. But nevertheless, it all happened.
As John Paul II said in 1982 when Mr. Kolbe was canonized: ”Maksymilian did not die but gave his life for his brother” Kolbe’s example certainly is a literal way of “giving your life” for someone.
I believe in our lives – waaaaaay less radical circumstances and decisions to make – we can and should dedicate our lives for someone/something else than ourselves. As Martin Luther King says: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
Such conscious decision is one that sets apart many of my acquaintances – or my own life. Deciding to work and behave in a way that it doesn’t only benefit the the actor but the receiver too is essential to reach higher.
I’m not talking necessarily about altruism and self-sacrifice. I’m talking about a conscious decision FOR YOU to look beyond yourself.
1, understand that you are not necessarily / not much more special than the other 7,6 billion humans.
2, eliminate your passive actions including staring at the wall, watching TV, scrolling the news or social media, spending time with people ’cause you can not be alone, etc. (actions that create no value)
3, accept that you always have a choice
4, realize that your life can always carry meaning (even in a concentration/death camp!)
5, take your life as your responsibility: the here and now. (Let it be terrific obstacles like rampant social media posts, advertisements, evil friends, cruel teachers, high unemployment, too many choices and Donald Trump or something serious like a suddenly deceased parent or an unexpected terminal illness.)