“He who has a Why to live can bear any How.”

I’ve been pretty mentally exhausted lately that posting a blog post has been low on the To Do List.  But I wanted to share something that I read just now, that felt like a lightening strike.

First, read this article.

Now here’s comment #885 of that article, which I’m going to copy in its entirety, just in case it gets lost in subsequent comments:


I don’t know if God has a plan; some days I am not at all sure about God. But there is good and evil; there is suffering and grace (the experience of unexpected and amazing joy, beauty, goodness in an often overwhelmingly dark and cruel world). Chris has experienced both extremes and so has earned the right to speak with authority. He shapes the understanding of his suffering in terms of his religious faith. He has that right and no one needs to find offense in that. His story is not a judgment on other people’s lives; he is not saying that his mother and brother didn’t deserve to live. He is saying that the fact of his survival is both amazing and a burden, and he had to find a way to live with the guilt of survival. He had to find a way to make his life worthy in the face of their death.

To the cynical bloggers I pose a question: Are you wondering on some level –Why did God “speak” to Chris? Why am I left to suffer without any profound response from the universe? I have no answer to that. Just as Chris initially had no answer to the question, Why me and why not my mother or brother? and had to find an answer he could live with. But would it make you any happier to learn that Chris subsequently succumbed to the horror of his life story and destroyed himself with drugs or alcohol? Of course not.

So the only important question is not about Chris but about your own life. What is your Why? In other words, are you allowing your personal suffering to define your life? Do you have the courage that even Nietzsche, the most famous atheistic existentialist, exhibited — the courage to search for a reason for personal suffering despite intellectual, physical, and emotional pain and suffering. And Nietzsche believed we had to create our meaning, we had the power to choose our own answer. Chris has chosen his.

It sounds like some of you are angry that Chris has faith. But maybe you are angry because you don’t. And I don’t mean faith in God necessarily, I am not trying to preach religion. I mean faith in goodness, faith in grace. Without faith in something positive it is difficult to have any hope; without hope it is difficult to believe in the possibility of love or joy. And that is a true tragedy. I, for one, am incredibly thankful that Chris has found faith and has created a loving and joy-filled life for himself despite the horror he experienced as a child and the burden he carries of his own survival.

“He who has a Why to live can bear with almost any How.” Friedrich Nietzsche.

What I like about this commentor is how respectful she is to both theistic believer and non-believer alike.  And the fact that she doesn’t quote the obvious “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” Nietsche line — which has unfortunately turned into a platitude since N’s death — also increases just how much I like MonaVilla’s thoughtful commentary.

“He who has a Why to live can bear any How” — amen.


About lizardqueen

If single-mothering were a paid job, I'd be rich. However, it doesn't, so I write (which doesn't pay the bills) and teach (which does). I'm overly-educated in the liberal arts, but that doesn't hinder my ability to be pragmatic and realistic. YAY.
This entry was posted in Faith and Religion, History & Currents Events, LQ POV. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “He who has a Why to live can bear any How.”

  1. Hello there, I’m trying to recall in which book Nietzsche said “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” If you know could you please enlighten me asap? Thank you very much!

    • lizardqueen says:

      After some digging around the Web, I found a more accurate English translation* of Nietzsche’s quote, found in the “Maxim and Arrows” section of his “Twilight of the Idols” text:

      “12: If we have our own why in life, we shall get along with almost any how. Man does not strive for pleasure; only the Englishman does.”

      Here’s an online English translation of “Twilight of the Idols”:

      * Translation by Walter Kaufmann (1947-1980), who was Professor of Philosoph at Princeton University until his death.

    • Brb123 says:

      Man’s Search for Meaning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s