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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Flight Instinct Amidst Buffeting Winds

Can you be yourself with the group? With God? What would God do in your situation now if you freely express your feelings? What is God likely to do if you're not honest? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 820).

The freedom to be oneself - in one sense this is the highest goal that any nation can undertake for its citizens – to cultivate a comfortable setting in which people feel innately free to express themselves or willingly decline to do so. In our experience if we're lucky we can remember spots in time when we felt completely free to be ourselves – genuinely, honestly, totally and comfortably free. Right away, however, a paradox becomes clear. Freedom for all necessarily implies restrictions for all. My freedom cannot include encroaching upon yours. Thus almost instantly a huge array of laws and sanctioned behaviors become necessary for clearly my freedom cannot include the freedom to harm you. We come to live with this conception of freedom, though qualified, and many have died for it.

Yet a yearning for unrestricted freedom persists. In America we greatly admire the entrepreneurial spirit. We tend to get incensed if it is restricted by big government - its arch-enemy. There is something in the human spirit that will always rebel against restraints. We yearn to enter a spacious room in the mountains with comfortable furniture and a roaring fireplace. Such a scene is readily available so long as we are trained to be reflexively considerate of others. Even so, regulation is necessary. Even in a totally courteous and considerate world traffic lights would still be necessary for courtesy is subject to practicality and arrangements of mutuality.

Does God want us to be honest? If I honestly want to steal from my neighbor would God restrict me? The 10 Commandments clearly indicate that he would. We must face the paradox of freedom and get used to the simple fact that a fundamental human urge will never achieve more than qualified fulfillment so long as survival entails a significant degree of mutuality.

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