Spirituality for Today – September 2012 – Volume 17, Issue 2

Made For Freedom

By Gerard-Marie Anthony

We are all made for freedom. Everything tells us this: Revelation, our country, bodies, and even the recent events of Independence Day and the Fortnight of Freedom. Therefore, it is important to keep before us this great truth and reflect upon it.

A photo of a wooden walking bridge on the beach

Freedom always starts off with the ability to choose. This is what makes us human. However, freedom can be defined differently based on what and the way we choose. Therefore, we see there are two types of freedom: a freedom based on choosing what is best and one that is simply based on the ability to choose. The first is known as a freedom of excellence. The second is known as a freedom of indifference because it does not matter what you choose as long as you can choose.

Our bodies show us that we are made for the freedom of excellence, not simply a freedom of indifference. They teach us not merely to choose (freedom of indifference), but to choose wisely (freedom of excellence). Here are a few examples. Physically, if you abuse your body, it rebels: if you don't get a lot of sleep, you get cranky or fatigued, smoke a lot-can get cancer, drink a great deal-can get cirrhosis of the liver. This happens mentally as well with mental anguish and guilt. If we have to make an important decision, what usually happens? We agonize over it. Why? Because we want to do what's best. When a man is proposing to the woman he wants to marry, he doesn't say, "Let's just get this over with," and leave it to chance. He tries to figure out the best way to do it. Again if we take a trip somewhere, we try to figure out either the quickest or most inexpensive route to get there, not just get on the road and go. Technology and can help us to discover many things and MapQuest is a great example of this; it is an ongoing witness that we are made for a freedom of excellence!!! The examples are endless. If we feel we haven't used our freedom for what's best and simply make a decision; guilt usually sets in. Guilt is your body's way of letting you know something that you chose did not fulfill the freedom we were made for since it fell short of what the mind saw as the best choice. This especially includes morality. Thus, we can see physically and mentally that our bodies direct us towards a freedom of excellence, not a freedom of indifference.

Our country is built upon this same principle. It started off with a freedom of excellence. Thirteen colonies were good, but a country of unified states was better. The Articles of Confederation were respectable, but the Constitution was in a class of its own. When faced with the decision between the rights of the individual and that of the state, the country did not lean towards a freedom of indifference. This would have meant that we would have had to sacrifice individual rights at the expense of the government or vice versa. Our country chose to operate under the freedom of excellence, choosing what was best for the country and as a result chose both. In this, it became the great nation we know today.

In modernity however, we are losing this sense of freedom and leaning more towards the freedom of indifference. Freedom is no longer based on what is best for me or my country, but based on the statement, "I have a right to choose." I have the right to choose life or death, DSL or High Speed internet, eat or starve, Church or State, abortion or birth control. The thing is, in this newly promoted view of entitlement, all choices are equal. A lie is the same as the truth; life is the same as death. When freedom is no longer based on truth and what is best for the person and society, but simply on the "right to choose", we are no longer free. We become slaves to choice.

People feel they are "tied down" in a marriage because they can no longer choose to go out with multiple people. Women feel like their freedom is violated because they cannot "choose" not to become pregnant in the same way as a man. Teens are lost because there are so many choices that they do not know how to make one. This type of freedom adopted by our culture has led to infidelity in marriages, numerous broken hearts, selfishness, and a long list of other fatal consequences.

The problem with this is we were not made for, nor was our country founded, so that we could become slaves to something less than ourselves. In this modern idea of freedom, we sell ourselves short of the dignity and glory we were made for. Making a decision is not a bad thing, but it is not always the best thing. We should all be able to live and encourage one another to live in a truly fulfilling way. We do not have to choose between serving our country and obeying the Church. We should be able to do both because both should be guided towards truth, love, and what is best for society. We should never have to choose between murdering an innocent baby (abortion) and allowing ourselves to be used (contraception and other forms of lust). We should and must always choose what's best, thus in ways which allow all persons to be loved.

How do we do this? If we know we are meant to choose the good, we must go to the source of goodness. As Scripture says, "No one is good but God alone" (Mk. 10:18). Therefore, we must pray. We cannot choose what is good and most excellent for ourselves and our nation if we take God, goodness itself, out of the equation. Again, Scripture tells us, "A good tree cannot bear rotten fruit nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit" (Lk. 6:43). We cannot be a good tree, thus bear good fruit by making good decisions, without being rooted (pun intended) in goodness! As a result, we must be rooted in prayer.

So after this Fortnight of freedom, let us not forget the great truth our bodies, Revelation, and country were built upon. Let us listen to our bodies so we will not be burdened by guilt, but inspired in love. Then let us carry this ideal into our nation and not sell it short of what it has always been. It has always been a beacon of freedom to the world; a freedom that always strives for greatness and this is found in the freedom of excellence. In embracing this freedom, we will declare once again our independence from tyranny, corrupt decisions, and false ideals. We will embrace the principles of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that our country was founded upon. We will choose life instead of death, liberty in excellence and not simply in choice, and pursuit of happiness in upholding every person's dignity from conception to natural death. Then, in this type of freedom, our great nation can once again sing together, "Let freedom ring!"