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Something Greater than Escaping

I ran back to my hut to collect all my possessions: my food bowl, a pair of torn mittens inherited from a dead typhus patient, and a few scraps of paper covered with shorthand notes (on which, as I mentioned before, I had started to reconstruct the manuscript which I lost at Auschwitz). I made a quick last round of my patients, who were lying huddled on the rotten planks of wood on either side of the huts. I came to my only countryman, who was almost dying, and whose life it had been my ambition to save in spite of his condition. I had to keep my Intention to escape to myself, but my comrade seemed to guess that something was wrong (perhaps I showed a little nervousness). In a tired voice he asked me, You, too, are getting out? I denied it, but I found it difficult to avoid his sad look. After my round I returned to him. Again a hopeless look greeted me and somehow I felt it to be an accusation. The unpleasant ant feeling that had gripped me as soon as I had told my friend I would escape with him became more intense. Suddenly I decided to take fate into my own hands for once. I ran out of the hut and told my friend that I could not go with him. As soon as I had told him with finality that I had made up my mind to stay with my patients, the unhappy feeling left me. I did not know what the following days would bring, but I had gained an inward peace that I had never experienced before.

Between I942 and 1945 psychiatrist Viktor Frankl labored in four different Nazi prison camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. In Mans Search for Meaning he shares his experiences and stories of many of his patients. There may not be another account written that paints a more vivid picture of the Nazi network of concentration and extermination camps. The above excerpt takes place toward the end of Frankls imprisonment when he had the opportunity to escape. Yet the idea of leaving a sick and dying comrade behind combined with the stinging words You, too, are getting out? seems to have caused him to discover something greater than escape . . . peace. In the midst of the most hellish situation imaginable there existed a relationship bound together by a common hope.

In the end accountability has at its binding agent that which existed between Dr. Frankl and his countryman patient so many years ago: hope. When we discuss the issue of accountability and ones inner circle, we must see ourselves in two very distinct lights: being both doctors and patients. An inner circle of people following Jesus and walking beside each other must recognize the need to care for each others souls (the role of doctor) while also allowing their soul to be cared for (the role of patient). In other words if we understand accountability we are both doctors and patients.

-Brent Crowe

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