Freedom in Confinement

To look at other things, to value other things, only in accordance to their effect on me is the same as trying to bend every other entity’s will to mine. I am making myself into a diety. And we are not meant to be gods.

How awesome we must think ourselves to be! I mean, really? “We’re nothing but farts in the wind” (which I would imagine is hard for you to disagree with, wether you are comparing us to the greatness of God, or even merely the vast expanse of the universe) is a saying my good friend loves to tell me. And he is right. And this is a beautiful statement, for two reasons. One: I just love farts. I really do. They are hilarious. And two: that statement is a perfect segue into the point I’m trying to get at.

We are inherently selfish, and have no right to be.

Seriously. What could justify a fart being selfish?  The only thing they have to brag about is the how pungent their smell is. Or how loud they announced themselves. (Or their taste..? We won’t go there) And when we are selfish, how bad we stink and how loud we talk about how bad we stink are the only real options we can choose to manipulate.

As I said, we have no right to be selfish. Selfishness is, at its core, a lie.

Can you think of something as insufficient or as limited as our own will? We didn’t choose the hour we were born, we can’t raise mountains, we can’t make the universe obey us. We can’t even consistently show up on time to our own appointments. The word selfish is a one word oxymoron.  It doesn’t work.  It is limiting.  If we are truly interested in our selves, we need to focus on being selfless.  When I treat my own desires as the goal, and attempt to reach that goal by self determined freedom and actions, I find my selfishness to in actuality be nothing but inadequacy.  I will be continuously let down.  I will find that what I thought was pleasure results ultimately in confusion and pain.  How then, can we find fulfillment?  How can we actualize our self and find meaning in our lives?

How can we be free?

Well, if freedom was merely the ability to choose anything at any given time that would be easy.  We could just think things and choose things and love things and BOOM.  Freedom.  Happiness.  Easy.  But it doesn’t work like that.  We could have the most money in the world, and it wouldn’t mean anything if we just flushed it down the toilet all the time. We could only fully utilize the potential of our riches if we invested, donated and spent our money wisely and with purpose.

Sticking with that analogy-I believe we are wired with purpose.  And to be truly free our choices must reflect that purpose.  They can’t just be choices for choice sake, but must be choices for the sake of another.  I stated earlier that the bending of others’ wills to our own was to turn ourselves into a god.  I think that the inverse must be true in order to achieve true freedom…we must bend our own will to that of another.  We must spend our money the right way to fully realize the rewards.

An attempt to explain:

If selfishness is truly inadequate, if trusting in our own devices will do nothing but let us down, then we must be created to act within or at least in accordance with something else.  We find true joy and contentment when seamlessly woven within the fabric of another’s actions, another’s will, another’s power.  I feel that we are all endowed with a subconscious desire to do good.  To think of others.  To love.  If what I have said holds true and we aren’t self-sufficient, we must rely on something else.  Confine ourselves to the will of another.

And not just any will mind you.  God’s will.  Cause if you didn’t know, there is only one thing humans are guaranteed to do to you, in one form or another.  To reference my first analogy:

Farts will only let you down.

Would you, as a mere ‘fart in the wind’ (this example is assuming that farts are generally something that isn’t desirable.  I know, fellow fart lovers, its tough for even me to accept) want to align your freedom with something equal to you (another fart) or even something inferior?  No.  That would accomplish nothing but cause you to fall vastly short of your potential.  We should never strive for anything other than the best. We should strive for the unattainable. Not for the perfect career. Not for a certain status. Not even for a lifetime filled with the love of another. We should strive to perfectly serve the will of God. What flows out of that focus will fill every other aspect of your life with more joy than you ever knew was possible.  Love for man is made whole when it is first and foremost a love for God.

In review:

We have no authority to bend others’ will and value to our own.
Selfishness is inherently broken: following our own devices, being truly autonomous, will leave us lost.
Therefore: true freedom must be in accordance with an “other”.
The only other who’s will isn’t similarly lost, searching or broken in one way or another is God.

True freedom is found in confinement.  In seemingly limiting ourselves (by ignoring all the possible things we could choose i.e. flushing our money down the toilet) to the will of God we do not destroy a part of our freedom.  We gain it back tenfold.  We have dedicated it to a purpose, and this deepening of our union with the will of God results in not only us having more than we did, but being more than we were.  We can see farther and wider than ever before.  This kind of acknowledgment and obedience to the objective Good leads us to places where our directed freedom and actions can achieve far nobler goals than before.  And we can attain heights we previously didn’t know existed.

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