The Burden of Freedom
April 16, 2015
Filed In: Faith
Freedom is a wonderful thing. Since you're reading this, you're one of the lucky ones who has the freedom to use the Internet. You have the freedom to read uncensored content. You have the freedom to determine the course of your life. As Catholics, we also have freedom. We can choose the right or the wrong. We can do good or we can do evil. Freedom, in all of its glory, is morally neutral. In fact, freedom is a curse if you can't control yourself.
Freedom is nothing without personal responsibility. We all have the opportunity to break laws and commit felonies, but personal responsibility demands that we conform our actions to just laws. We all have the opportunity to commit grave sin, but personal responsibility demands that we conform our actions to the direction of our rightly formed conscience. Addictions take away our freedom and make us subject to base desires. This lack of control becomes a curse as all of our actions and choices are determined by that which holds greatest sway over us.
Interestingly, unbridled freedom leads to a deep sense of unhappiness. Unbridled freedom allows us to hurt people and to act contrary to our own well being. We become consumed with self-centeredness, greed, and envy. We make choices that work against us. In some sense, while we don't have unbridled freedom in society, we do have it in our morality. We're given aids and controls through our faith, but it's up to us to employ them. Our morality is given to us unbridled and it's up to us to restrain it appropriately. God wants what's best for you, and the boundaries that He suggests will do just that. It's when we go outside of those boundaries that we become unhappy.
When it comes to happiness, good begets good. Like a good day that just keeps getting better, happiness tends to snowball. When it gets big enough, even the bad things that happen are minimized. Choosing the good and having control over oneself results in continuously happier outcomes. When we choose to reject unbridled freedom and instead insert personal responsibility into our morality and decision making, we experience the natural lift of good actions and choices stacked on top of each other.
Freedom is a burden for those who can’t control it. By adopting positive boundaries and embracing personal responsibility, we can maintain control over our lives and grow in peace, happiness, and joy.