After weeks of studying in Vienna my new mentor and friend Viktor invited me to join him on his visit to San Diego. He had been invited to spend the spring semester at the University and had arranged for me to pursue my Doctorate in Human Behavior and Leadership. I was thrilled to join him, and each day in his presence was like being in a laboratory filled with wisdom and learning. In addition to his incredible mind I was privy to the innumerable letters from all over the wor…ld telling him how his book and work had changed their lives.
For all of his achievements what most amazed me was his humility and ability to forgive the Nazis.One day while we were having lunch I asked him” How is it possible for you to not hate the Nazis?”He took off his glasses and paused for a moment. “They took my loved ones, my homeland, my occupation and a host of other things. If I hated them I would have nothing left.”I was stunned by his ability to love and forgive.When I caught my breath from his response I offered”It is a good thing that you are not a Sicilian.” This and so many other lessons came not only from his public teaching but more from the life he modeled. The students loved his classes, and besides his brilliant mind and gifted teaching style he possessed an uncanny ability to see the humor in so many situations.
I learned the following among the plethora of gifts he bestowed on my mind and heart.
No matter what the circumstances there are always some choices within your control.
The Past does not determine the future.
Every human person desires and seeks meaning.
Love will always overcome hatred.
Everyone has value and is worthy of love and respect.
You become great by not seeking greatness but rather by service to others
He was at the center of the University and was not only a magnet to students but also to other heavyweights in the field. One night I was at the table with Viktor,Carl Rogers,Harold Greenwald.Everett Shostrom and William Shutz.I thought to myself what is a kid from 202 Delaware Avenue ,Jersey City doing at this table?