Freedom in our Hearts

Pg 305 – They Thought They Were Free
Freedom is risky business; when I let my little boy cross the street alone for the first time I am letting him risk his life, but unless I do he will grow up unable to cross the street alone.

Freedom IS a risky business. Freedom means you are liable for your actions.   Not someone else.  Freedom means that you WILL suffer the consequences for your actions.  Not someone else.  Freedom is the system that most encourages our hearts and minds to grow beyond their bounds.

Pg 305 – They Thought They Were Free
When the Americans decided that they could not “afford” freedom for the Germans, they were deciding that Hitler was right

It can be such a difficult thing to give freedom to someone else.  Especially someone used to being much less free than you.  “What will they do?  What if they make a mistake?  I want to insulate them from harm.”  We can’t do that, we must let them cross the street, alone, for the first time.  I love the way he put it in the above quote however, in that when we decided to not give freedom to the Germans (initially), we were deciding that Hitler was right.   Hitler was right?  No!  I pray that none of my actions or thoughts would ever give any kind of proof to that evil man.  He was not right.  Germany can be free.  It’s people prosperous and loving of all people.  Now, granted, it is easier for me to think this because I write in the year 2012 where Germany has been a friendly, industrious worldwide powerhouse for at least a generation and a half.  But this is true of all people, particularly those with zero to limited freedom.  This applies to North Koreans.  This applies to Zimbabweans.  Russia.  Americans.  Kenya.  To humans.  Hitler was not right.  Humans can handle freedom.  We make mistakes, but it is with those mistakes that we actually learn.  I need to have the option to touch the hot stove to even ever internalize what “high temperature” can do to ones body, and by internalize I mean “take to heart”.  The cold-blooded killers that the Nazi regime produced were individuals who never internalized any of the consequences of their actions.   Freedom forces internalization more than any other political system.

Pg 305 – They Thought They Were Free
Free inquiry on a free platform is the only practice that distinguishes a free from a slave society; and , if the post-Nazi Germans needed force, they needed it for the one purpose it had never been used for in Germany, namely, to keep the platform free.  What they needed was the town meeting, the cracker barrel to see, to hear, and at last to join the war on the totalitarianism in their own hearts.

Discussion is also key for internalizing ideas; for bringing an idea into your heart.  I like the notion of “joining the war on totalitarianism in our hearts”, because it emphasizes the war that is fought in the hearts of man.  Just as the book Ideas Have Consequences discusses the importance of critical thinking about what ideas we hold, if we don’t transfer the worthy ideas to our hearts – your heart is a place for ideas that you truly understand and truly believe – then we won’t act consistently on those ideas.  How to transfer from the heart to mind?  I think the above quote says it well.  We need society.  We need a social discussion of the important themes that run through society.  We need to talk things over with our friends, our families, or neighbors.  We need to fight for what we think is true, but to be flexible and to be willing to continually learn and internalize what is truer than any of our prior notions.

This post is a continuation of a long series of commentary on quotes pulled from They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer.  The book itself is home to a lot of revelations to the nature of people and I do recommend reading it.  To see the short review of the book itself please click this link, to see other commentary click this link.


One thought on “Freedom in our Hearts

  1. Pingback: A Role of Knowledge « The Economical Engineer

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