Friday, April 15, 2016

The Lie of Freedom

Are you really free?

The question is a bit disembodied, yet most of us in the West would say a resounding "yes!" These folk cherish their freedom and seek to ensure that everyone has that freedom. However, I believe that the question is incomplete. Indeed, anyone responding to the question, "are you free?" now needs to ask two questions before even beginning to answer. The questions are, "from what?" and "to do what?"

It's considering these two questions that we can really begin to see that perhaps we're not as free as we'd like to be. If we truly are beings with a non-physical mind then free-will is a distinct possibility. Given a choice between things we should be able to make that choice freely. Our minds become the non-physical cause of that choice. That's deep philosophy, though.

Yet, what are we not free to do? From what are we not free? This is where the Lie comes in, that freedom becomes a license to exercise the will in each and every respect. The Lie tells us that, if we can imagine it, it not only can be done but it is an affront to our freedom not to do it. It is often said that our fathers fought and died to give us the vote, and to ensure that we have that right in a free democracy. It's false. These men and women died to allow us the right to choose to vote, or not. Of course, in a democracy, voting is a duty. If, however, we are not in a true democracy, then our vote can do little. In a false democracy, voting could even be the endorsement of something which is morally suspect. Exercising the choice not to vote may actually be morally preferable.

Look carefully at Democracy, and we see that the power and freedom of the people are necessarily restricted. That's as it should be, and brings up the main point. Our freedom is not about the capacity to do whatever we want. We live with others of equal humanity to ourselves and with wills that are no less crying out for expression and exercise. We cannot be free to do whatever we want, and a society that bases the whole notion of freedom on that basis cannot remain functional.

It is an illusion that we are free even to define ourselves. God created each of us in His own image according to His will. Even the Creator has limited His freedom to allow us to be what He created - to be what we are! This involves a lifetime of wrestling with others, ourselves, and even with God as we try to discover our existence in Him.

One thing we cannot do is to define ourselves to be what we want us to be. This is very much like trying to put ourselves into a Procrustean bed of our own making. We see what we want to be, and define ourselves to fit it. Appearances, of course, are frequently deceptive. We cannot choose to be a cat. Cats don't have human brains and so we have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of what it's like for a human to be a cat. One might as well think of the square trying to be circular. The square and the circle share the same topology  (if you travel around their edges far enough, you end up back where you started) but they do not have the same geometry  (corners!).

Our freedom as human beings extends only to what we are and how that fits in with the people around us. If we hold onto the maxim "do what thou wilt" then we find ourselves already in Hell. If we see our freedom as something that exists in our limitations, then we can better appreciate the need to allow others the freedom to be themselves so that we can be ourselves.

When we exercise our freedom, we don't try to become something we're not. We accept what we have and seek to find ways of enjoying what we have. The more a boy tries to "act tough" to hide the pain he's really on, the less chance he will have of confronting that pain in himself and dealing with it. The pain is there for a reason. It is not to be hidden, but taken seriously.

The more humanity tries to be free from itself the more it will become frenzied, confused, and self-destructive. We see this already with individuals tearing themselves apart, or using the Law to tear society apart. The only way to find true peace is to turn back to the One that Created humanity in the first place. Our Redemption is in the hands of a human being, that of Christ Himself. The only way to become truly free is to become one with Him.

Are you free? From what? To do what?

Perhaps we'd be better off asking, "are you really you, yet?"

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