July 04, 2011

Does Real Freedom Exist Today?

This Independence Day I took a brief survey in Sag Harbor, New York, asking random people about freedom. Does real freedom exist? If so, what is it like? Sergei was happy to answer my questions and even posed in the stocks for me while some people preferred to remain anonymous. There were three examples of freedom to consider in the survey:

Independence is freedom

Hedonism is freedom

Knowing God is freedom

Sergei Cruz said "Freedom is a state of mind. You can be in jail and your mind can still be free. It's your choice of how you want to perceive things. Look at the positive things in life." He chose knowing God as the best example of freedom.

Elizabeth Knab, who was working in the windmill gift shop, said, "If real freedom exists, this is it!" I wanted to clarify, "You mean the U.S., right?" "Yes... and Canada Isn't too bad either." She said all the choices represented freedom because for her freedom is the right to choose.

James Allen, who works for the American Beauty tour boat and studies philosophy,  said; "We have a sense of freedom here but we don't have complete freedom. It's more of an idea than a reality." He chose hedonism as the best representation of freedom.

Yann Joffredo, a visitor to the area, said; "Real freedom is when I can do what I want to do when I want to do it. Real freedom has to do with equality and civil rights." He chose independence as the best example of freedom.

Bill Dowling, a harbormaster from N.Y.C. and a Korean War veteran, said knowing God is the best example of freedom.

Trevor Holtham said, "Real independence exists but freedom is relative. I don't define someone else's freedom." Trevor described how the U.S. Constitution originally considered an African American 3/5 of a man, as described in Article I, Section 2, until the 14th Amendment changed this.

Richard Werner and his friend Al believe America is the best form of democracy in the world but they don’t like the direction the county is headed in. They see independence and belief in God as the essence of freedom.

Mathieu Lambotte of France was taking a break from his sailboat and was happy to offer his opinion, “Freedom is being wherever you want to be and seeking happiness.” He offered a quote he’d heard, “Your freedom stops where another person’s freedom starts.” And he offered a Sartre quote, “Other people are your hell.”

Eileen said she believes in independence and said the U.S. is basically becoming a police state. I can relate, having just watched the film America: Freedom to Fascism - Director's Authorized Version  by the late Aaron Russo. I recommend the film to promote awareness, but not necessarily the kind of activism endorsed.

Tony said, “Freedom can’t be given to you, you have to make it.” He said Knowing God is the basis of freedom. He said you know God when you know yourself.

A witty Jewish intellectual described his own  pragmatic hedonism as an ideal, “Eat drink and be merry in moderation, for tomorrow we live!” His summarized his concept of freedom, “Freedom is to know the encounter of God is a real possibility and not having to ram it down your neighbor’s throat. I think he wanted me to know he wasn't just any chaim yankel. He enjoyed the conversation so much he ended up with a parking ticket.

An anonymous Irishman said; “Freedom is being a part of something greater than yourself. Helping people gives a sense of freedom and passion.”

Political, Personal and Perfect Freedom

Most of the people answered the questions from a political perspective. Personally, I believe real freedom does exist and in its highest form it is spiritual in nature. Because God is the embodiment of absolute truth and love, knowing God and being in harmony with God's truth is the basis of perfect freedom. The indwelling Spirit of God allows us to live free from the slavery of the sin nature, as mentioned by the Apostle Paul:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8.1-2, NKJV)

The word independence means freedom from control, and spiritual freedom offers this kind of liberty. True freedom isn't so much about being in different places physically, but being in a position spiritually (justified by Christ) and knowing the person of God relationally. Jewish people sometimes take offense that Christians describe God and the Messiah on such intimate and personal terms. But these are the kinds of terms the prophets of old used to describe the New Covenant. Even the dumb goyim neighbors of the Jews will know the Lord, according to Jeremiah 31.31-34.

The Apostle Paul wrote letters from prison that celebrated his freedom while he was in physical confinement. And Jesus also emphasized the power of spiritual freedom:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV)

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32, NIV)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36, NIV)

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this survey!

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