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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Repercussions of Sensational Freedom

In my first years at undergraduate school a required course was called Human Behavior.  One assignment in that course was to undergo a new experience and write a little essay on it.  What I chose to do was to smoke a big, black cigar.  Smoking was prohibited in my home growing up, so this was indulging in behavior that I knew would not be approved of by my parents.  Though in a sense the experience was trivial, I remember well the firm statement of freedom involved.  I was deliberately breaking rules—“the law” so to speak.  I was enjoying the sensational experience of freedom that deliberately violates approved behavior.  I was “letting it all hang out.”  In a way it simulated the experience of prohibited sex.  I remember having an erection during the experience.  This same sensational thrill of breaking the law during the affirmation of self no doubt plays a role in some more serious activities from burglary to taking illegal drugs.  It is the thrill of making a statement of freedom—however negative that statement may be.  It is a clandestine experiential sensation that must have accompanied Adam & Eve’s first indulgence in prohibited fruit.  I would call this indulgence “sensational freedom.”  It is the high that results in deliberately crossing the line of established mores. This exhilarating experience formulates one of the central characteristics and attractions of such behavior, of sin.

The flip side of sensational freedom is the slavery that can result.  What we once indulged in as a lurid act of liberation can end up reprogramming our brains so that addiction results.  Then, rather than having a choice, we have no choice at all as the will is made secondary to compulsion.  Then our past days when freedom was possible are seen as a remote Eden while the present becomes an endless enslavement binding us in shackles and chains.  

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