Post 10 of 36
There is a natural human desire for freedom that can only be fulfilled when we draw upon all our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical resources to accomplish meaningful goals. Why does this definition include more than the words, “absence of restraint” as dictionaries often define it? True freedom is being able to do things that aren’t just required of you. When we decide on what we want to do, feel right about it in our heart and conscience, and can carry it out; we live in true freedom. One aspect of freedom that we include is the satisfaction of working beyond our own necessities. We are free when we can fulfill the three life goals; become a mature individual, establish loving relationships and family, and contribute to society through creativity and mastery. These three goals are the responsibilities that are linked to true freedom.
Harm of Addictions
On the other hand, addictions hurt our ability to function as free and conscious human beings, capable of achieving our life goals. There are many types of addictions. Alcohol, smoking, and drugs are addictions that influence the mind and body. So many people are hurt, sometimes killed, because of their use. Misuse of these substances also effect the health and well-being of people over time.
There are countless other addictions as well. The habit of pornography has become too common for people of all ages, occupations, and genders! It’s conveniences and the temptation of pornography is prevalent everywhere especially with our current technologies and devices. If we wonder aimlessly through life, what power do we have to offset its power. As hard as it is to escape a myriad of addictive behaviors, there is help for those that seek it.
Freedom and Choice
Freedom from addiction protects our capacity to face the challenges of life and experience true happiness. Freedom involves choices. We have the free will to make healthy and responsible choices, or we may make unhealthy and irresponsible choices. Making responsible choices leads to true freedom and success in life. True freedom allows us to achieve our full potential and achieve substantial goals.
It takes a great deal of humility to admit our addictions. Our conscience often tells us to seek help, but we are often enjoying the temporary feelings of our habits. Unless we see a greater reality and seek guidance, support, and accountability to pull us away from our addictions, we will remain enslaved to them.
When freedom is divorced from moral guidance, responsibility, and worthwhile accomplishments, it is perverted into license. When addictions control our actions and reactions, how free are we? There is no inner peace without true freedom. People under the control of addictions have lost their freedom to lead a normal life; they abandon what makes human beings admirable and unique. Societies enact laws to restrict the freedom of those who, in doing as they please, commit crimes and harm to both themselves and others.
Restrictions and Freedom
Laws and principles guide our freedom, just as the constitution of a country gives its citizens the freedom for collective self-determination. Freedom is both independence from external limitations and liberty for achieving a higher purpose. It does not bypass natural laws or universal principles but is built on mastery of natural laws as well as moral and ethical principles. Today, we have achieved the freedom to fly, because people have command over the technology of aviation. Great pianists have the freedom to express themselves through their instruments, because of the proficiency they achieved through long years of practice and observance of the principles of their art forms.
There is genuine confusion about the word “freedom.” Too often, we believe that freedom means we can do anything we want to do, without restrictions. Therefore, the idea of abstaining from something (such as alcohol, drug abuse and premarital sex, for example) would seem to be the opposite of freedom.
Upon closer observation, those who abstain from sex outside of marriage are the ones who end up free. They are free from the unwanted pregnancies, the horror of sexually transmitted diseases, and the emotional chaos that uncommitted sex can bring. Free to invest their boundless energy into creative projects, young people can develop the social skills and strong sense of identity that give them a strong foundation for life. They can be free to trust and be trusted in marriage, without the burdens of past irresponsible actions.
Example of Purposeful Freedom
Knowing the value of making the three life goals part of our ideals has been the greatest blessing not only for myself but our family. My husband and I worked on growing our hearts for several years before we got married. It was not easy and sometimes I wanted to escape facing my limitations. In hindsight, I’m very grateful we didn’t give up. Our marriage was built on a higher purpose and together we strove to do something productive for this world. Some healthy habits we created were saying our Family Pledge together at the beginning of each week, month, and year. When I wake up each morning, I read words of wisdom. Then I pray for the day and plan what internal growth to work on that day. Each night, before sleeping, I reflect and pray about what I could have done better or what I would like to change, investigate, or work on.
This practice helps me focus on what’s important in life. I often find inspiration on such things as how to improve my attitude or how to deal with people etc., including ideas to develop in this book. Holding ideals and making effort to grow our heart does not mean we can’t enjoy life or have fun. It’s the opposite. I feel enriched to be making progress and exhilarated when I see our grandchildren. Of course, when I’m struggling with something, I feel frustrated but having a purpose in my life makes a world of difference.
Freedom and Virtue
True freedom endows us with the responsibility to accomplish something worthwhile. Young people want to be the protagonists of their own fate, and they need guidance and support in their aspiration for autonomy. When people assume that their freedom allows them to do anything that they want to do, they may end up recklessly risking their life for fleeting pleasures and becoming enslaved by addictions. People of integrity choose to be responsible, uphold moral values, and live up to their ideals. This should be the goal of parents, educators, and mentors.
Those in leadership positions should have the greatest virtue. If they use their power to take advantage of others, there is no freedom in the end, only misery for themselves and others. Similarly, professionals are not free to use their knowledge and expertise primarily for their own benefit. As Nelson Mandela stated, "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."[i] All people need more than the basic comforts of life to be free. We need to feel connected and have positive, significant interaction with others. To be deeply free, we need to be an energetic influence on the world in our own special way.
When have you experienced inner freedom?
What does freedom mean to you?
How do addictions restrict true freedom?
What do you need to overcome bad habits and addictions?
How is your connection between your freedom and your life goals?
How can you take more responsibility in your life?
What are your values and ideals?
[i] Mandela, Nelson, and Jennifer Crwys-Williams. In the Words of Nelson Mandela. Walker & Co, 2011. P.24