Imagine a situation in which you can choose between the following two scenarios: life in complete captivity for remaining 20 years and then death; or life in freedom for a year, after which death awaits you. What would you choose? Your answer would probably depend upon the way in which you perceive freedom – what it represents and which components it includes. Therefore, it is important, first of all, to determine the meaning of the terms about which we are thinking in a right manner.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, one can find the following definition: Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude (CCC 1731).
Further, freedom has two polarities. Therefore, we can talk about internal and external freedom. External freedom implies a life without physical captivity, a life free from slavery, a life in which we can express ourselves freely, move and act freely without endangering other people. Internal freedom reaches much deeper, all the way to the core of our being. Not having internal freedom means to be deprived of control over our thoughts. Internal freedom allows the mind, will and thoughts to be enveloped in the mantle of independence and to develop by participating in the source of truth and goodness.
The “magic” word – freedom, is on the lips of today’s world every day. This “magic” is manifested in the fact that freedom is divinized. It is as if freedom has become a god today. It is exactly in this world that glorifies freedom on a daily basis that there is the least freedom. What a paradox. Although we are offered various types of freedom on a daily basis, real and true freedom is no longer in offer. The windows of the spiritual shops of the world have not offered true freedom for a long time, but they are trying to entice us with some “new” freedoms. Obviously, true freedom is no longer fashionable. Every season brings with it a new fashion, and no one even asks about the past. It was, then it passed. And what is no longer talked about becomes old-fashioned and slowly sinks into oblivion. The Spirit of God, who has been omnipresent in this world for so long, by force of greater or lesser intensity, has long since sunk into oblivion. Then some other spirits have come, which we ourselves summoned by rejecting the Spirit of God. Eventually, we declared God dead (Nietzsche) and proceeded with the burial. However, when the tomb had already been excavated, we have realized that the Spirit could not be buried, precisely because the spirit has no body, and then we ourselves fell into that empty hole of death from which there is no way out. In the emptiness of darkness, we began to summon new spirits for help, but they “helped” us only by burying us in the ground. We realized too late that no other spirit can fulfill the longings of our hearts except the Holy Spirit who comes from God.
By rejecting the Spirit of God, we have rejected the true freedom, so we have firstly invented and then embraced some new forms of freedom. Every day we are faced with a wide range of choices of various freedoms. Everyone today can choose the freedom that suits them best. We are the ones who choose, who determine what and how – at least that is what the spirits of this world convince us. However, we forget that the very possibility of choosing the freedom we want is conditioned by the choice of those same freedoms by someone else. That is, someone before us has already put together a choice of freedoms that he now offers us as our free choice. Isn’t such an understanding of freedom contrary to its true meaning?
We now return again to the question of choice from the beginning of the text. At the end of both offered scenarios, there is death and it is a violent one. The choice offered is predestined by the date of death. At the same time, the choice offered seems impossible and intangible to us. Who is someone (or something) who is forcing us to make the choice offered? Perhaps it is more important to ask about the very spirit of the source of the choice offered than about the two mentioned scenarios that follow from that source. Just because someone has offered us a choice doesn’t mean we’re really free to choose. And that is exactly to what we have reduced freedom today – on the question of choice. To choose, therefore, means to be free. We degraded freedom by lowering it to the lowest branches, and then reduced it to only one segment – the right to choose. We destroyed the whole tree with all its fruits just because of one branch. For the tree can be told by its fruit (Mt 12:33), and not by the cut branch that withers. Such a branch cannot bear fruit, but when left alone it perishes and disappears into the dust.
That is the way in which the true freedom has disappeared in this world. I wonder: What kind of freedom awaits us after the end of quarantine and after the abolition of all measures taken to prevent coronavirus? Will we get partial or complete freedom of movement? And what about our internal freedom, will we release it from quarantine? Dictated freedom is not a free freedom, but it is a chained one. And not only that, freedom must not be limited to one of its two dimensions. Freedom as such, in its essence, comes to its fullness of feasibility only in the unity of bipolarity that is inherent in it, and these are the internal and external components.
We need to understand the following: only God is able to give us the right choice – the one between life and death. That is the true freedom that comes from Him. Because by choosing life, we choose God, and by choosing death, we reject God. On the contrary, human freedom gives us a choice within only one polarity – death. There is only one door that leads to life and only one path that we should walk. There is only One who is all in all, who is the fullness of being, the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no true freedom outside of Jesus Christ – everything else is a delusion. Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery (Gal 5: 1).