June 1      

Today's quotation:

Freedom is not simply the circumstances that allow you to do whatever you want.  Freedom is not only the opportunity to choose.  Freedom is the strength of character to choose and to do what is right. . . . The foundation of freedom is not power or choice.  Freedom is upheld not by men and women in government, but by people who govern themselves.

Matthew Kelly

Today's Meditation:

I'm very often amazed by the number of people who claim that they're free, yet who really don't have a good idea of what that means.  They've latched onto the term to make themselves feel better, it seems, but they've given no thought to whether they're actually free or not.  Their actions and words are those of people who are being guided by forces outside themselves, yet they claim to be governing themselves completely.

My freedom doesn't come from a government telling me I'm free.  Nor does it come from simply being able to wake up in the morning and deciding what I'm going to do.  My freedom, rather, is reflected in the choices I make and my willingness to take risks of losing all that I have in order to do what I know to be right.  My freedom is shown in the decisions I make that don't follow the norms of society, that don't come as an effort to maintain whatever safety or security that I believe I have.  It amazes me to see how many people have the "freedom" to choose whatever clothes they want, yet who stick to certain name brands, or who can't take vacations when they want because their jobs demand their presence during certain times of the year.

To be sure, it's important to remember that with each decision we make as free people, we give up certain other ones.  When I decide to teach, I decide to give up the ability to take a week-long vacation in October to see the autumn leaves.  I spent four years in the Army, and when I signed the papers I knew that I was giving up many, many freedoms in the process, but it was a sacrifice that I was willing to make-- and I was still a free person.  Giving up those freedoms, though, didn't make me less free.  In fact, some of the most free people in the world may have lived under conditions that seem to be least conducive to freedom, such as poverty or totalitarian regimes.  But they were free because their minds and hearts were free; while they might not have had complete freedom of expression or movement, their freedom was an interior condition rather than an exterior one.

Our freedom represents a huge responsibility to ourselves, an important need or requirement to make the most of it that we can.  Because I'm free right now, for example, I'm going to be leaving the job that has become less challenging and moving on to I don't know what or where-- I'm going to let life push me where it wants me to go, to a place where I hope I'll be able to make and important contribution to the lives of others.  After all, freedom is about using the freedom to do something significant for others, and not about grabbing everything we can for ourselves.

Questions to consider:

Why do we focus our ideas of freedom so much upon what we can do for ourselves?

Where do my freedoms end, and the other person's begin?

Just because you can do some particular thing, is it always best to do so?  Is it a responsible use of freedom to do something we know is wrong?

For further thought:

The freedom from something is not true freedom.  The freedom to do anything you want to do is also not the freedom I am talking about.  My vision of freedom is to be yourself.

Freedom: The Courage to Be Yourself

more on freedom



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