Free Will and Freedom, Surviving Christmas…

Well, we all survived the most difficult day of the year—Christmas, aka the Royal Gorge—so I suppose that life goes on and we will live to see another day. This is good, I think, considering the options. I generally try to avoid sharp objects on that day. To say that Christmas has ‘lost its way’ would be an understatement, of course, but then: isn’t that true of all religions and holidays?

The challenge as always is to make this world as perfect as we humanly can, in terms of truth beauty and goodness, as a reflection of that more perfect world of spirit. That means a world that is clean green and serene, with an interesting cast of characters displayed upon the green screen, for eventual release in a theatre near you. And on a personal level that means that each of us has the freedom—and responsibility—to do good. Let’s get started.

Of course we Westerners—including Americans, especially Americans—believe in freedom like nothing else, absolute and inviolable, in yo’ face and reliably profane, seldom profound. You score points in Western culture by showing skin, by showing balls, by being offensive and downright insulting. Aggression is our calling card and massive armies our stock in trade.

“The best defense is a good offense,” or so the story goes. We ‘liberate’ peoples around the world, giving them their ‘freedom’ and wishing them good luck, with a pat on the back and a Starbucks coffee coupon, worth a couple bucks. Welcome to America. Real freedom is nothing like that, though. Real freedom is a metaphysical necessity, a metaphysical reality, nothing to do with the chains around your heart or your ankles.

Real freedom is a freedom of the will, the freedom to do good or bad, and to be called to answer for your actions and your decisions. This is the essence of morality, to do good or bad, of your own volition. There is a tendency in popular societal narratives to avoid and evade this responsibility but it is real, and disallowing it only perpetuates it, presumably so that no one’s feelings get hurt.  For example, it is often said that alcoholism is a disease, implying not only that it isn’t your fault, but that there is a cure. I’d say that there is more likely a cure if the onus is placed squarely on the shoulders of the free agent.

Likewise no one should get credit for his moral actions if nothing is truly given. For some rich bloke to act like he’s moral because he threw the bums a dime in his prime is pathetic and ridiculous. Better you should cross the street to help a handicapped person open a door—for no money or even thanks. That is an act of kindness and charity that confers merit upon the bearer regardless of any financial importance.

Our rush to put a monetary value upon everything, acts of kindness included, is a sign of our own poverty, not those of the so-called ‘poor’. We have only mastered money when we can live without it. And the hypothetical ‘freedom’ involved in portraying various religious prophets in various acts of sex, distress or undress is not freedom. That’s something else. I am NOT Charlie what’s-his-name…

Freedom is all about responsibility, the responsibility to do good, not purchase mass quantities of consumer goods. Let’s add another tenet to our hypothetically perfect religion—moderation in consumption and strict recycling and extreme non-wastefulness. Christmas needs to take a different direction. Maybe the best offense is a good defense. Sounds good to me.

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