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This morning I was reading a book that I was given as a gift almost thirty-six years ago when I graduated from high school. I don't know why I picked this book up to read now. I don't know why I have kept it on my shelf all these years except that it was given to me by a very dear man, a friend's father who happened to be the minister of our church at that time. Something just called me to it a few days ago and I decided to find it and read it. Do you ever do things like that? Something inside you tells you to do something. There is no rhyme or reason to it, you just know you're supposed to do it. And you do.
The chapter this morning was about freedom and what it really means to be free. I appreciated, very much, the lesson that the author was trying to convey. It's interesting, because the book was written by a Methodist bishop in the 1960's, that so much of what he had to say then is still so very relevant today. His message was that freedom, true freedom, really is not. We all have choices, and to those who have worked with me and especially to my son, you all know how much I 'preach' choices---and consequences. Our freedom is exhibited in our choices. We are free to choose just about everything in our lives, but when we choose one thing, then we're not free to choose another. When we make that choice, then other choices are limited. It is a fact.
Just think about it...everything you do is a choice. And with each of those choices comes the consequences of those choices. If we choose to stay up an hour later than usual, we will suffer the consequences of fatigue the next day. If we choose to push the snooze button, we will suffer the consequences of rushing to get to work on time or perhaps even being late. I wonder just how many choices we average in a day. I'm sure that someone somewhere has done a study on it. It has to be an incredibly high number!
There are those people who work very hard at not making a choice. They do everything in their power to get those around them to make the decision for them. Somehow they believe that by not making a choice they are absolved of all consequences if the decision was wrong and if the decision turns out to be the right one then they can claim victory because they 'elected' the decision-maker. They seem to believe that the world is safer for them because they're not capable. I would suggest that not making a choice is a choice. They have chosen to give their power, their life, to someone or something else.
The fact of the matter is freedom is not free. Here is a wonderful parable told by Rabindranath Tagore that demonstrates this fact: "I have on my table a violin string. It is free to move in any direction I like. If I twist one end, it responds; it is free. But it is not free to sing. So I take it and fix it into my violin. I bind it, and, when it is bound, it is free for the first time to sing." The point is if you choose to be kind, you cannot be unkind. If you have chosen to be loving, then you cannot be filled with hate.
We must all choose what we will be subject to. We are either a slave to fear or faith, love or hate, goodness or evil. I have chosen not to watch the images of hate, anger and fear. I don't read about them in the paper or on the internet. I don't watch them on my television. I certainly know that they exist but I don't have to let them into my home or my head or my heart. That is my choice. It is freedom from those things that I seek.
Ernest Holmes reminds us, "The thing we surrender to becomes our power." I choose to receive my power from faith, love and goodness, for in those things is renewal of life, of hope, and of peace.
Isn't this what we, as a country, fight for? Isn't this what makes us different from the Sadams or the bin Ladins or the Gadhafis of the world? It is our choices that make us free--or not.