By Audrey Tan —
Freedom. Most of the time we think of the term in a simplistic, linear way. But it is, in fact, complex and multifaceted. The most basic freedoms that allow us to live and grow as a person include access to education, clean water, and the liberty to work, which allows us to eat and live.
A step above is the kind of freedom that gives us choices—choice freedoms, if you will. This gives us the ability to believe and say whatever we wish and do whatever we please. That includes free speech and religious freedom, which are rights, fortunately, already established in the U.S. constitution.
A higher level of freedom is one that goes beyond the ones mentioned above. Spiritual freedom is the kind that gives you peace and frees the burdens in your heart and soul. It’s this kind of freedom that is the most important, yet the hardest to attain, and we see this lack often play out in America—“the land of the free.”
The opposite of this latter freedom is spiritual and mental enslavement, but what does it encompass? Evil deeds, unethical behavior and corruption, believing in a lie, the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth and greed—and the feeling of guilt and shame all have a part and can cause us to implode.
Earlier this month, the LA Times reported on a man who was arrested on grand theft and impersonation of a priest. He was a con man posed as a priest for a number of years, accused of defrauding churchgoers with thousands of dollars. The priest who called himself “Padre” celebrated Masses and baptisms but the power of greed took over and ended up in physical and spiritual bondage.
Freedom is not always a positive especially when in the wrong hands, and it’s not aways easy to determine since it can lead to judgment or prejudice. Sometimes we need to sacrifice one kind of freedom to gain a better one, and sometimes it’s a balancing act. For instance, in the issue of gun control, the freedom to own a gun can take away the freedom of another by killing a life. Without laws of restraints, more issues and chaos ensue.
Author John Green wrote something interesting about freedom in The Fault in Our Stars: “Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” When we look at freedom in the most general sense, there are sins that come with that right—and it stems from the thought that everything is okay, acceptable and a right.
What kind of freedom do you value most? To have the basic freedoms of life is a given, but to be free in our inner being that make us human—our heart, mind, spirit and soul—may require the sacrifice of a few of our choice freedoms. It’s the sacrifice of one’s pleasures, comforts and worldly satisfactions that can lead to another person’s freedom, and even our own.
When we think about the intricacies of freedom, we see how each choice and decision we make has the power to create a ripple effect from one end of the world to another.
What I’ve concluded is that in our spiritual journey, finding truth becomes the most noble pursuit and a path that will eventually lead us into true and complete freedom.