Nicolae Tanase: Dr. Rediger, what is the meaning of life?
Jeffrey Rediger: The meaning of life is, I believe, to do what it takes to turn darkness into light.
We are living during a very exciting time. Stepping back and looking at where we are as a human race, I believe it’s true to say that we are now out of the jungle, but just barely. It’s a really important development that acts of violence and abuse that have historically been concealed from view or hidden behind closed doors, by individuals, families and cultures, are increasingly being brought into the open. As that happens, the work for truth and reconciliation is beginning to occur.
I took care of a young man recently who had endured years in an environment of mind-numbing rage and atrocity. The light returned in his eyes, his soul lightened and life became an adventure rather than a burden as he realized that he didn’t come from his parents but rather came through them. To know that he was not stupid or defective as he had believed; to know that he had the stuff of divinity within him and that nothing could take this from him, was ultimately life-changing.
The beginning of this shift, it seems to me, from darkness to light as a culture, and from appearances to a deeper, spiritual perception of the individual, is very meaningful and promising to me.
For me, the meaning of life lies in doing what it takes to increasingly see that behind every cloud lies the sun; that a deeper reality than appearances suggest does exist; to see the Image of God within self and other when appearances suggest otherwise; that love does heal and is always an available option.
~Jeffrey Rediger, MD, MDiv, is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, the Medical Director of McLean SE and Community Affairs at McLean Hospital, and the Chief of Behavioral Medicine at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center. A licensed physician and board-certified psychiatrist, he also has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. His research with remarkable individuals who have recovered from illnesses considered incurable has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz Shows, among others. He has been nominated for the National Bravewell Leadership Award, and has received numerous awards related to leadership and patient care.
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