Slavery

I have written a few times about liberty.  In fact, that is what the original purpose of this blog, to explore my own understanding of liberty because I need to digest a topic, expand it and explore it my own mind, to extrapolate truth from it and put it down in the written word in order to fully understand it.  Now let’s visit the opposite of liberty.

Slavery.  Bondage.  Restraint.

Are you truly exercising liberty?  Are you free?  Do you actually possess it or just think that you do?

In the United States, we consider ourselves the most free of any people on the planet, but are we really?  We have Constitutional freedoms such as speech, public assembly, ownership and possession of firearms, presumption of innocence, election of public officials, etc…

We have religious freedoms such as the right to assemble, pray, and worship peacefully.  You can be a Buddhist, an Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, an atheist, or a Druid and no one can force you to be otherwise. 

In this free country, we tolerate abortion, divorce, idolatry, nearly every sort of sexual perversion, violence, callousness, hypocrisy, greed, malice, and corruption for a number of reasons too numerous to list.  We tolerate public officials that speak vacuously and think of nothing, but how to win the next election. 

We tolerate some of the most vile behavior and tell ourselves that is the price of freedom.  Let me tell you something.  That behavior that is vile and disgusting.  That behavior that falls so outside of the goodness of God is not tolerable.  Our tolerance of it is the same as acceptance of it. 

You, me, we are all guilty of acceptance of it at some level.  It might be in our refusal to chastise someone for it, to try to expose them to the Truth and correct their ways.  It might be in our voluntary decision to cast a ballot for someone because they are the lesser of two evils.  It might even be so deeply embedded in us, that it is in our driveway in the form of a fancy luxury car in order to be perceived a certain way by our neighbors. 

In the United States alone, the land of liberty and freedom, nearly 30% of the population will suffer an anxiety related disorder in their lifetime, (WebMD).  Why is this?  Could it be because they have somehow realized the paradox that by living in the most open, tolerant society and culture on the planet, with the most freedoms, the most lax laws, and the most promise of finding whatever path you wish to take an embarking on it because it is your birthright to do so to be a burden?  Hardly.  It is because something is wrong with this country.

What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest.

Eccelesiastes 2: 22-23

Instead of dealing with the problem of what is causing the anxiety deep down, foundationally, we deal with the direct source – work, family life, etc… and while this treatment offers temporary relief, it fails to address the true problem.  The problem is that as free as we are as Americans, we are slaves.  We are told that we are free, when our souls tell us otherwise.  When all is tolerated something is horribly wrong because along with the good comes evil.  How can we possibly be free when we are trapped and enslaved to sin?

Satan has a tremendous talent for taking something beautiful and amazing, a true gift of God, like liberty and twisting it just slightly to mock God and to mislead us.  We are so free, so liberated, that we tolerate not only the good things in life like equality for all, equal justice, the fundamental God-given rights of man, but also the corruption of God’s creation by permitting evil to have free reign in society. 

You can see it everywhere.  The scandals, the corruption, the greed, the absolute poisonous atmosphere that is dividing our country politically and philosophically, the avarice, and the chasing after the wind that the American Dream has become. 

Whereas the American Dream was once equated with certain principles of freedom, it is now equated with things. The American Dream has undergone a metamorphosis from principles to materialism. … When people are concerned more with the attainment of things than with the maintenance of principles, it is a sign of moral decay. And it is through such decay that loss of freedom occurs.

John E. Nestler

We are called to be free, yet we tolerate bondage to work, to status, to mediocrity, to society, to entertainment, to sin.  We toil, ultimately, for personal gain.  There is nothing wrong with this if it is honestly done, but to ascribe anything else to it is folly.

Everyone’s toil is for their mouth,
yet their appetite is never satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 6:7

Don’t you see then that you are a slave?  I am.  You are.  Everyone is.  We work so hard to accomplish something in life, yet so many of us find ourselves wanting at the end of the day. Whatever we accomplish though is ultimately nothing.  Years after we die who will remember it?  If you are lucky, you might make history and your name recorded in a book that someone might read some day.  That is about the biggest impact that you, my fellow speck, will ever make by yourself.

That is the paradox that takes the most free society on Earth, the brilliant gleaming city on the hill, and sinks us into deep depression to the point of needing pharmaceuticals, counseling, and outlets in order to endure our liberated lives.   You are a slave to something despite your purported freedom.  As hard as we run this race on Earth, the finish line for you, me, and everyone else remains the same – a hole in the ground, some worms, and a chiseled piece of stone to mark where we will turn back into dust.

Depressing.

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

Ecclesiastes 3:20

If that is the end of the story, it sure is depressing.  You are born, you live a hard life working to make sure that you can go on living, only to be faced ultimately with your own mortality when you die.  No wonder so many Americans faced with such liberty are so depressed and anxious.

God’s Commandments do not deprive men in any way of true freedom. They rather serve to make him independent of creatures. It is the sinner who falls under the yoke of an ignominious servitude. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor 3:17). Besides, liberty does not consist in the right to do whatever we will, but whatever is permitted. The word is much abused in the present day; many consider it to mean license, and they call the restraint which the laws impose on their evil work tyranny and despotism. Others think it signifies liberty for themselves and servitude for others. Hence we often find so-called liberals the most intolerant of mankind.

Father Spirago & Father Clarke, The Catechism Explained

The problem in this country is that we are looking at liberty in the wrong way.  Liberty is not a license to behave as we wish, but rather to LIVE as He designed.  Liberty through obedience and faithfulness.  How can anything in this world hold you back when you reject the world and embrace the Lord of creation?

In a way, Orwell’s Newspeak from 1984 captures this mindset perfectly.  Slavery is freedom.  If you become a slave of Christ, you will find liberty.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Embrace liberty.  Reject the world.

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