The Character Movement

What Viktor Frankl can teach us about character.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

Youth Frontiers’ mission around character and community is as important as ever. Maybe even more so … As our typical daily life is being upended, and our way of being in community is changed, we have the opportunity — and the moral obligation — to show young people the importance of rising up to embrace character. We must show our children what is noble, what is good, what living with character looks like in times of difficulty and suffering. This is not only good for our larger community; it is also good for our children’s sense of well-being.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. In his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he describes the suffering in concentration camps and concludes that even in the most horrific and dehumanized situation, everything can be taken from us except one thing – the last of the human freedoms – the freedom to choose one’s attitude.

Fast forward 70 years to the challenges and suffering in our time during this global pandemic. We are not in the horrors of the Holocaust, but many freedoms that we have become accustomed to have been taken from us. As Frankl asserts, the one thing our situation today cannot take from us is the freedom to choose our attitude.

We can grow during this time – grow bitter or better. The choice is ours.

This is a time to grow better and show young people how to respond to challenges and difficulties – to walk the high road of life that is often filled with potholes and boulders. If armed with character, our children become stronger and more able to overcome the obstacles and trials they inevitably will face.

This Week’s Challenge: Despite the sobering news around you, focus on what is within your power to control. Keep a positive attitude and choose to walk the path ahead of you with character — which is rarely the “easy” way.

How we respond during this time will define us as individuals, a community, and a nation.

Let us choose to be people of character.


Joe Cavanaugh
Founder & CEO
Youth Frontiers

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