All About Freedom

Pg 277 – They Thought They Were Free
Freedom is nothing but the habit of choice.

Habit – Noun:
A settled or regular tendency or practice, esp. one that is hard to give up.

Is freedom a “regular practice” and one that is “hard to give up”?  Boy, that is an excellent question.  Not something I’ve really considered before until reading this quote and looking at the definition of the word Habit.  It’s true however.  Freedom, or the ability to follow your own will, is something that has to occur regularly otherwise it isn’t freedom; and the more you follow your will the harder it is to stop.  It isn’t addictive necessarily, but that your Will gets stronger and stronger, and thus less likely to desire to bend to someone else’s imposed will.

If you are religious, you will probably balk a bit at the idea of “following our will”.  But please keep in mind, when we choose to follow Christ, we aren’t going against our will.  We are choosing to align our will with His.  So that His preferred choice, is our preferred choice.

However, let’s continue the above quote as the author has more to say on the matter.

Pg 277 – They Thought They Were Free
Freedom is nothing but the habit of choice.  Now choice is remarkably wide in this life.  Each day begins with the choice of tying one’s left or right shoelace first, and ends with the choice of observing or ignoring the providence of God. Pressure narrows choice forcibly.  Under light pressure men sacrifice small choices lightly.  But it is only under the greatest pressure that they sacrifice the greatest choices, because choice, and choice alone, informs them that they are men and not machines.

Without choice, without freedom, we truly are little more than biological machines.  I believe that is one of the primary reasons God instilled Freedom (or Choice, or free will) into our very nature.  He didn’t want to create machines, he wanted a Free human.  However, with that freedom has come many a high cost.  Including the “pressure” mentioned above.

Pressure is an interesting concept.  One that really gave They Thought They Were Free an edge above other historical books.  Pressure has much effect on Freedom, but that is a topic to return to in a post later this week.  For now, let us stick with Freedom.

Pg 277 – They Thought They Were Free
National Socialism did not make men unfree; unfreedom make men National Socialists

Our choices shape who we are and through that shape our environment.  Obviously, our environment also affects our choices.  So it is a bit circular and can develop into a mean circle that decrease us to less and less freedom or lifts us up with more and more freedom.  The above quote makes a great point that it isn’t National Socialism (run by a few moronic psychopaths) who are then able to convert everyone else into little Socialists, but that reduced freedom causes people to restrict their choices until they no longer feel restricted.  Their first choice would have been A, but since they aren’t free they chose B.  Now, they willingly choose B over A.  Unfreedom molds us just as much as freedom does.

I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves.” – Harriet Tubman

That is why Ideals are so important, if we aren’t grounded in Christ, freedom and common sense we will be “weak” and “swayed by every breath of wind.” (Luke 7:24)  We are seeing this now in the current USA as people become more and more pliable to Socialistic or Fascist ideas.  We are feeling the pressure and being molded by it and becoming unreasonable mean.

Pg 277 – They Thought They Were Free
The ultimate factor in choosing is common sense, and it is common sense that men under pressure lose fastest, cut off as they are (in besieged “Peoria”) from the common condition.  The harder they are pressed, the harder they reason; the harder they must reason.  But they tend to become unreasonable men; for reasonableness is reason in the world, and “Peoria” is out of this world.

Reason is difficult, and we’ve talked about that before.  Who after all wants to think?  But, after a night of watching the news do you ever feel like the world has lost reason?  Or is losing its common sense?  We read about increased thefts, murders, terrorist attacks, fraudulent elections, wars, … has the world gone mad?  In a sense we have, we have lost enough freedom and lost our Christ-centric foundation that we now actually want decreased freedom.  We’ve become so pressured that we are becoming National Socialists, or some similar, “more modern” variant.

Pg 278 – They Thought They Were Free
In such exquisitely fabricated towers a man may live (or even a whole society), but he must not look over the edge or he will see that there is no foundation.

All false foundations can not last for eternity and will crumble.  The question is just “when?”  God willing, enough people will look over the edge and see the lack of foundation; at that point then the towers will crumble but fewer people will be hurt less, and rebuilding can be done faster.  Germany came out on top decades later, but millions of people were killed and scarred in the process of the tower falling down.  This concept applies not just to nations, states or societies, it also applies to us as individuals.  We need to examine the foundation of ourselves and through that our society; I personally have not always been pleased with what I’ve seen.  What have you seen?

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.

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One thought on “All About Freedom

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

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