TribuneCarla Restoy

The beauty of being free

Freedom is a great ideal of contemporary man. However, the apparent freedom that is sought, that of the uncommitted, leaves an aftertaste of dissatisfaction. The author, a speaker at the 10th St. Josemaría Symposium (Millennials of faith)reflects on it.

December 20, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes

Few things attract human beings more than freedom. Freedom is a great point of union between Christianity and today's world. Although it is perhaps true that today the concept has been distorted. I dare say that in our time we enjoy great freedoms, but we suffer the worst of slavery. I am not mistaken if I say that in our days we enjoy exterior freedoms but little interior freedom, the most important one. 

But what binds us, what prevents us from being free? The prevailing thought in the world is that in order to emancipate ourselves and be true, we must succumb to the desires of our passions. The established norms are not valid, and rebellion against the established is the only guarantee of freedom. We live angry with the rules and it seems that only he who dares to break them is free. "No one is more a slave than the one who considers himself free without being free"Goethe said. I am afraid that our time is the time of "free" slaves. 

Our generation focuses on outer freedom and confuses it with inner freedom. It focuses on emancipation from that which binds us, which is outside of ourselves. The men of our time do not stop running away to try to free themselves from something that they feel imprisoned by, that prevents them from being free. The idea prevails that what the system has established is wrong and that is why we cannot be free. There is a great loss of the sense of reality. 

Perhaps we should rightly identify what it is that enslaves Western man in 2021. Few young people today have heard of Victor Frankl or Bosco Gutiérrez, or my good friend Jordi Sabaté Pons, great models of free people. It is hard for us to understand that the more our sense of freedom depends on external circumstances, the more evident it is that we are not yet truly free. If we want to be happy we will need to order our intelligence and will above all other passions and understand the truths established in our heart. And what are they? St. John Paul II said that "Only freedom that submits to Truth leads the human person to his true good. The good of the human person consists in being in the Truth and in realizing the Truth.". We must understand that our heart and nature are wounded and will always need healing.

What does our heart yearn for? Good, truth and love. We are very attracted to freedom because our fundamental aspiration is happiness and, deep down, our heart knows that happiness is not possible without love and love is impossible without freedom. Love is only possible between people who possess themselves in order to give themselves to the other. And our heart is not made for anything else but to love and to be loved. This revelation is the fruit of the knowledge of the human heart that comes from being born in our time. Our heart is free to the extent that it is capable of enslaving itself, of giving itself, of committing itself, for love. There is nothing more beautiful than freedom employed in this total surrender of the self. At sight is the cross of Christ which, pointing to the four winds, is the symbol of free travelers, as Chesterton rightly pointed out. 

Is the young person who consumes pornography every night so that he can go to sleep relaxed free? Is the elite athlete who does not go to training on a rainy day free? Is the one who gets angry when he is disturbed free? Or the one who decides to stay asleep even though he knows he has to go to class free? Freedom has to do with good and therefore with commitment to that good. Choosing the good in order to then remain in it. And the good has to do with reality, with the rules of the game that we have in our hearts or that have been revealed to us and that our intelligence or reason can accept as good. The truth is that a world where we are sold that the freest is the one who does what he wants can lead us to end up being slaves of the "want", which is the worst of dictatorships. Because when "will" rules, nothing else can be done but what it wants. If our emotions, feelings, passions and instincts dominate our intelligence and will, we will be slaves of ourselves. The person who is not formed in a firm and determined will is usually a prisoner of his desires and whims. As Chesterton said in The Eternal Man: "Dead things can be swept away by the current, only something alive can go against the current.". 

I dare to encourage you, dear reader, not to let yourself be swept away by the current of the lower passions. It is worthwhile, it is worth your life, to use your intelligence to understand what we really long for and to use your will to remain in that act with prudence and justice in order to give ourselves what we truly need. I do not know anyone truly free who does not possess himself or anyone truly free who has not decided to commit and enslave himself for love. I know nothing more beautiful than the freedom of Christ on the Cross.

The authorCarla Restoy

Degree in Business Administration and Economics.

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