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Tied By The Heart
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Tied By The Heart
Does our freedom ensnares us?
[1,128 words]
Jeffrey (George) Winter
Journalist, counselor, author.
[May 2003]
[email protected]
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Tied By The Heart
Jeffrey (George) Winter

    Do we see the world in an upside down manner?
    Freedom is an ironic thing. In our perception, freedom means not being possessed or controlled, being independent of any outside or inside pressure to conform. Autonomy lies at its root.
    The Christian conception of freedom is quite different, involving surrender to a Being who supposedly holds more power in His hands than we can imagine, who possesses omnipotence beyond comprehension. It is believed that those who surrender to this Being are truly free, the implication being that the “other” freedom is illusory, a kind of counterfeit.
    So who is right and what does it matter?
    Since unless something matters to us, we don’t deliberate over its “rightness” or “wrongness”, first consider if and how the question of personal freedom truly matters to us.
    It matters because, aware of it or not, our definition of freedom influences our every decision. What we do or will not do is impacted largely by how it will affect our sense of autonomy. Some things, like jobs, are often impingements on that autonomy but we engage in them nonetheless because we want to eat, afford a car and comfortable housing and be able to gain benefits that we otherwise wouldn’t without money.
    It’s true that many people love their jobs. But even in that case, what is loved more than the money or recognition offered is the freedom to be creative or to feel that one is involved in “running the show”, so to speak. And even in such cases, breaks are required to re-fuel one’s batteries and re-charge. The only place for that is where unhindered freedom is found.
    Outside of work and other obligations that enjoin us, we seek “personal space”, that ever-important component of a well-lived life according to experts. We desire “a place” where we can express ourselves genuinely or engage in activities free from impingement. Where we can assert ourselves and not have to deny or repress them.
    That is what we call freedom. The appetite for it lies at the core of our heart and even in the case of jobs and other obligations that we carry out willingly, we long for the day when we can finally be free of them. We work hard knowing that some day we can “wrap it all up” and enjoy the retirement we’ve always dreamed of. Whose main defining characteristic is freedom, finally unhindered.
    So a question about freedom is important in a way that though perhaps is unacknowledged, is yet undoubtedly constant and relevant. As with the air we so effortlessly breathe each day, we would be alarmed and threatened if our freedom was suddenly cut off. We’ve fought wars over the “right” to freedom both for ourselves and for others.
    The question evidently matters!
    But what about the other question, who is right? If we acknowledge that freedom matters and affects us in daily dealings, even ignoring away larger and more global matters like wars that don’t appear to personally affect us, that presumes the question of “rightness” also matters. Our sense of right and wrong is always involved in matters relevant to us.
    The answer to that question lies in the validity of what it is we suppose freedom grants us.
    When we possess freedom, we have the power to do as we please, when we please, for however long we please. Even granting conscience or sensibility’s place in restricting perhaps unwise decisions made in freedom, for instance, determining we can spend the million dollar lottery we won on cars, boats and houses with nary a thought for giving any to the poor family that lives down the block or deciding we can as a break from our diet devour two dozen cookies, in freedom we possess unchallenged autonomy.
    We are, if you will, in a position like the Christian God, possessing a kind of omnipotence over our situation in life. No one outside us can control us.
    That is a tremendous power! But just how powerful and how free?
    If we look closely at those who have been devoid of that, we find something startling. They possess more freedom and in that more power. We find our definition of power and freedom not quite so solid after all. Our perception has been turned upside down.
    Such people have been able, in a way, to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil or distress because they knew neither the freedom nor power they possessed could not be impinged by anything. A freedom and power that was not their own but instead, the Christian God’s. Granted to them in return for surrender to Him. Surrender of control over their lives and even in the case of concentration camp prisoners, their situation at that very moment.
    The strength required to look death squarely in the eye and to say, “You can take me but you will never possess me because I am not yours.” In other words, your power has no sway over me. I am free of you even if you take me down.
    It could be argued that such cases are rare and in a sense, irrelevant because most of us will never come close to that kind of threat. The threats we face are less final, so to speak. Perhaps if we were to face them, then such a personally cataclysmic threats might draw from us some otherwise hidden Herculean resolve to act in the same way.
    But the relevancy to us isn’t dismissed by the rarity of such cases, instead in their occurrence. Many of these people never could have imagined themselves to be in such a situation a few years prior to being in it. They were perhaps, like us, insulated from the possibility of such tragic circumstances. And yet they ended up there. Where they found their only practical option to be calling upon that hidden power that lies inside every man, woman and child.
    Not that popular conception of “the hidden power that lies within” espoused by self-actualization experts. Whose root lies in asserting oneself and establishing one’s autonomy and personhood.
    No. Instead, the root of that power and freedom lies at the opposite end of the self’s spectrum, based in a humility that denies itself and surrenders. Not to its persecutors but to God. And in that way, takes on the power and freedom to deny any power oppressors may have over it. Even unto death.
    Power based in a freedom that could lay its life down and take pity on its killers.
    Not just an incredible freedom but an inviolable one.
    One that reveals the counterfeit nature of all other versions of freedom and power but doesn’t lord itself over them.
    Instead, takes pity.



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© 2003 Jeffrey (George) Winter
May 2003

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