for that, repeated regularly every day. You get to thinkingnabout how liturgies of worship must have gotten started innsome prehistoric clan.nYour mind drifts to many anthropological questions. Howndo institutions and governments get started? Are they thenproduct of a man on a white horse? Does some powerfulnperson impose rule: “We gotta get organized; here are thentribe’s rules; break ’em and I’ll cave your skull in.” I doubt it.nWhen you’re scared (and that’s probably why peoplengrouped into those first crude polities — fear of predators,nhuman or otherwise), you don’t feel the urge to take charge.nAnd when you’re expected to, by virtue of heredity in clannor tribe, or seniority, for sure, among military prisoners, onnfirst contact you seem compelled to say something becomingna well-brought-up American boy, like: “In these circumstancesnwhen you are being threatened or tortured to donthings that offend your very being, I can’t bring myself tonorder you to do this or that. Everyone must have thenautonomy to choose the best alternatives facing him. Do thenbest you can and God bless you.”nHow civilized and compassionate! But it will never sell.nThose fine young people in trouble won’t let you get awaynwith that. Their response is sure to be something like this:n”You have no right to piously tell us each to seek out thengood, and then back out of the picture. You are in chargenhere, and it’s your duty to tell us what the good is. Wendeserve to sleep at night, feeling that at least we’re doingnsomething right in all hewing to what our leader says. Wendeserve the self-respect that comes with knowing we arenresisting in an organized manner. We expect you to tell us tontake torture before we comply with any of their demands.nGive us the list!” There’s nothing rational about such anreaction. Anybody could see that we probably weren’t goingnto win the battle. But on the other hand, as the veterannprisoner Fyodor Dostoyevski aptly noted, “Man’s most deepndesires in life under pressure are not for a rationallynadvantageous choice, but for an independent choice.”nOn the parade ground, all the rankers vie for leadership,nto be out front; but in a political prison, being the bossnmeans you’re the first guy down the torture chute when theninevitable purge starts. In that place, the drive for disciplinenand organization starts at the bottom and works its way up.nMaybe it always does when lives and reputations are at stake.nHow about the handling of fear and guilt? Those arendetermining forces in any life. You can’t accomplish anythingnwithout a litde of both (“fear of failure” can keep youngoing once you get started), but if you let them out ofncontrol, they’ll tear the very core out of your being.nDid I say a little guilt—a feeling of inadequacy withnregard to your duties—was a good thing? Most modernnpsychiatrists would have us float around on a pink cloud ofnemotional tranquillity, free of conscience’s nagging, butnyou’ve got to have a goal if you’re going for anything big. InnArthur Koestler’s Arrival and Departure, the brain of anrestiess young southeast European exile, who is determinednto get back into the fighting of World War II, is given anspring house-cleaning by a female psychiatrist, who findsnhim hiding in Portugal in 1940. “What’s eating him?” hisnfriends all want to know; “He’s seen enough war,” theynconclude. Predictably, the psychiatrist finds the problem innhis past, a troubled childhood, and after clearing him of hisnhang-ups (she thinks), she awaits him on a ship with ticketsnthat will take them both to a safe, carefree life in America.nAt that point he runs aboard the ship only to divulge thenshocking news that he has just signed up with BritishnIntelligence to be parachuted as an agent behind enemynlines. Old prisoner Koestier writes him a notable farewellnspeech: “The prosperity of the race is based on those whonpay imaginary debts! Tear out the roots of their guilt andnnothing will remain but the drifting sands of the desert.”nThere’s power in feelings of guilt.nYet there’s a devastation when it rises to such levels that itnconsumes you (remember, in your wartime prison cellnyou’re waiting to be picked off by the first vulture toninterrogate you), or when it creates self-delusion (“After all,nI was tortured; maybe something came over me; my poornperformance must not have really been my fault; I mustnhave been broken or brainwashed”). Such rationalizationsnwon’t play well in the cold light of day when you’re edgingnyourself out on the thin ice separating you from a nervousnbreakdown. And a nervous breakdown you cannot afford innthis place. So there you are, wretched, about to sink into thenSlough of Despond—bow first or stern first, depending onnwhich crutch (consuming yourself or deluding yourself) younelect to use. Either will guarantee you the loss of yournself-respect; that being all you have left, you have to learn tonjust sit there in your solitude and throw away both crutchesnand heal yourself—there’s no outside professional helpnavailable. You have to deal with guilt, eat it, if you will. Youncan learn to use its fire for what it was intended, a flame thatncauterizes your will to make you stronger next time. Of allnthe challenges guilt brings in a political prisoner’s life,nworking off the feeling of having brought harm to a fellowninmate is the most demanding.nLater, out in public, you have no recourse but to join innthe inevitable discussion of your so-called “agony” in prison:n”How was the food?” “Did you get any fresh air?” “Werenyou warm enough all the time?” “Did you have any feelingsnof friendship for your captors?” “How was the mailnservice?” But when you get one old political prisoner alonenwith another, they exchange tales of a quite different nature,nof nervous exhaustion, uncontrollable sobbing in solitude,nthe wages of fear, and the feelings of inadequacy, of guilt. Itndoesn’t do to discuss these matters with strangers; they putnyou down as some kind of wacko.nBut believe it or not, as time wears on in solitary you getnbetter at dealing with these matters. The ultimate accommodationnwith them comes from focusing intensely onnleading a very, very clean and honest life, mentally andnotherwise — and you find yourself being consumed in anstrange, lasting, and unexpected high-mindedness. By this, Indon’t mean “joyfulness,” and I particularly don’t meann”optimism.” (In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Franklnmakes the point that babbling optimists are the bane ofnexistence of companions under stress. I totally agree withnhim — give me a pessimistic neighbor every time.) What Inmean by the setting in of high-mindedness is the gradualnerosion of natural selfishness among people of goodwillnfacing a common danger over time. The more intense thencommon danger, the quicker the “me-first” selfishnessnmelts. In our situation, at about the two-year point, I believenmost of us were thinking of that faceless friend nextnnnJULY 19881 Un