True Freedom

Being an individual, alone, man has this drive of going outside of himself in search of something beyond him, something that transcends him, to which he can be in relation. This is an inherent drive to man, and it results in the expression of his freedom. Yet it may also lead to schizophrenic flights because of wrong choices. Some choose objects like money, sex and drugs. In the eyes of the world, these have true freedom as they seem to possess something and, the more they possess, the freer they are because they seem to be in control of their destiny. Yet, one day, they will wake up and realise their great disillusionment because they find that in their freedom they made themselves slaves as they gave themselves to things lesser than them.

Others close upon themselves, making themselves their gods, seeking to obtain power, fame, glory, dominion over the crowds. But, sooner or later, the idol they built of themselves in the middle of their hearts will collapse, both because empires rise and empires fall, and because their idol is too fragile to be a god and, having remained closed within oneself, one finds himself enslaved by himself, a split personality, so to speak, with all its diabolic consequences.

Others go beyond themselves in reaching out to another. And this is the beauty of falling in love, splendidly embodied in marriage. Although one seems to be giving up his freedom by tying himself to one other, in reality one acquires a new freedom of loving and giving oneself to the other in a total and exclusive way. Yet, in all honesty, one has to admit frankly that man’s quest at this point is not entirely satisfied because he longs for something greater than himself, and the other in this relation is akin to him, on his same plane of existence and cannot be deified. If it is, one day it will also collapse because of human imperfection, leading to disillusionment and break down of the relation.

Thus, ultimately there is only one subject that can satisfy this deepest longing and give us true freedom: God. When we build a relationship with God, we find ourselves reaching out to something beyond us that is greater than us; perfect and omnipotent; also with the risk of being idolised and again everything will collapse because his omnipotence admits no manipulation or control from our freedom. But if we give ourselves to God we discover that we have acquired a deepest freedom because we are freed from idols that collapse, freed from closing on ourselves because it is the only real way we can overcome our loneliness. And you know why? Because this something greater than us is in us, deep within us, and so we are not running away from ourselves but returning to our heart’s core. And it is from there that we acquire our true freedom because then we reach out of ourselves wholly new and at peace; we reach out of ourselves not to control, manipulate or idolise, but to give ourselves. It is the greatest freedom because in acting we are moved not by something beyond us but by something in us; finding meaning internally. This is what the apostles found in Jesus. That is why they were ready to live as itinerants, allowed themselves to be disillusioned, but eventually were led to give their life completely, because in Jesus they found the satiation of their deepest longing. This is what the saints did all through the centuries. This is what we are called to live and to be: children of God, being not slaves but at home with ourselves, with others and with that which transcends us.