Sunday, March 13, 2005

Essential freedom

(Warning to reader: This post is a bit philosophical, and I run the risk of losing some of you in the words. Read it anyway, some of it will sink in by osmosis/diffusion. Or skip it, and re-read an easier post for review, or just wait till tommorrow, when I might get back to plain English! It's a free will universe, and you can choose as you will--that actually sums it up nicely! I just need to get these ideas out here, and then I'll try to make them simpler as we go along.) In exploring the ideas of service and self mastery, I want to spend some time with the idea of freedom. I have a very particular understanding of freedom that I'd like to share. There are many common understandings of freedom that I don't find all so helpful. Some people see freedom as a right, and interchangeably see "rights" as "freedoms." As a right, freedom or freedoms are essentially "permissions" which are granted through a political strucure. For example, we are said to have "freedom of speech" or "freedom of assembly" granted to us by our US Constitution. We are told that our soldiers in xyz war fought and died to defend the freedoms we enjoy, and for which we should be grateful, as if "defending freedom" were a proper and sensible justification for warfare that no one in their right mind could possibly argue against. We were also told promptly after Sept. 11, '01, that we should be willing to suffer some restricitons of our freedom in order to increase our safety. (So much for Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death!" That guy was clearly not buying into the "safety" line.) Some, in recognizing this kind of problem, where freedom is suspended under certain conditions, assign stronger words to certain rights, in an attempt to universalize them and protect them from tampering or suspension. They speak of "fundamental" rights or "inalienable" rights in an effort to guarantee a form of freedom which, because it is subject to the whims of political tyranny, needs to be tied to being human, so that any human "deserves" that right regardless of political circumstances, and so that to deny someone such a freedom/right is therefore always wrong and deplorable, whether you have a "bill of rights" in your country or not. I believe it is a serious mistake and misunderstanding to believe that freedom is merely a right granted or suspended depending upon political circumstances. Whether a freedom/right is considered to come from a constitution or to be somehow inalienable, when freedom is reduced to the status of a right, well, the possibility arises that it could be taken away. Freedom, however, is a reality much more essential to our humanity than that. It cannot be taken away, stolen, trampled upon, lost, or preserved through warfare, because it is not a "right" in the first place. True freedom is neither won on the battlefield or lost behind prison bars. True freedom needs no bill or constitution or language of inalienability to enshrine or protect it. If you're human, you've got it, in my book. That's because I believe that freedom is a quality of the will of a person, as in "free will." All of us humans have a will, and it's free, so we speak of free will. Now I am well aware of the fact that there are many out there of certain persuasions (the "predestination" crowd) who would excitedly argue there is no such thing as free will, and they would quote John Calvin who himself would be quoting some bible passage or other to justify themselves. Those persons will either stop reading at this point, or stick around to argue with me, and I would say that in either case, they prove my point! :-) So they are free to come or go. It's a free will universe, after all! The will of a person is a gift or talent, much like the human body---everybody has a body, and everybody has a will, no matter what race, creed, color, political orientation, sexual preference, or what-have-you. The source of all does not discriminate when handing out bodies or constructing wills for souls-becoming-human: again, everyone gets a body and everyone has a will. The quality of your body is that it is human, and the quality of your will is that it is free. With a free will we are able to think and choose pretty much anything we can manage to come up with. That doesn't mean we should, or that it is right to do so, but the possibility remains. We are free, in our will, not by right, but by nature, and nothing can abrogate our freedom. Our freedom therefore requires no defense. There is no need to fight for something that is in fact part of the essense of who we are.We need instead to master our will. You see, while our will is a gift, the fact that our will is free may at first seem to be a bit of a mixed blessing. The free will is kind of a loose canon if its handler is untrained. It can get you into all sorts of trouble. It needs to be trained. I will expand on this in tommorrow's post!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If someone breaks into your home and kills you, what happens to your freedom? Did the intruder take it from you?

12:58 PM  
Blogger Gil :-) said...

Fear not those who would harm your body! My freedom is unscathed by the death of the physical body. I remain the immortal soul that I am: my will is intact, unharmed. This is not to say the experience was pleasant. I also might consider locking my door in my next incarnation. :-)

8:17 PM  

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