Thursday, January 19, 2012

Self-Defeating Freedoms

Freedom! Freedom is worth fighting for. Freedom is worth dying for. Most people would say that's part of being an American, and I imagine that most other democratic countries feel the same way.

But many of the people who, with Patrick Henry, cry, "Give me liberty or give me death!" object when they see freedom being abused. This is natural. They understand the harmful consequences of abusing our liberties.

The Book of Mormon explains this principle in terms of choosing God or Satan: "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:27).

In other words, we are free to choose Satan over Christ, but if we do, we will lose many other freedoms. As a student of psychology, I am very familiar with ways we can give up freedom. Addictions are the most obvious example; I'm free to smoke a cigarette, but every choice becomes less of a choice. Soon, I could be a nicotine addict seeking help. Plenty of other freedoms are equally self-defeating. Playing a video game for a few minutes is fun. Playing a video game for hours on end can be a form of unhealthy escape, in which we forget that real life is worth experiencing.

I don't know how many ways there are to give up freedom. I'm focusing more on freedoms that create. Choosing Jesus Christ in any way will make us more free, more powerful, more intelligent, and more like Him. Certain mental illnesses can reduce our emotional freedom, but there are ways to improve. We can get help, exercise, or correct harmful thinking errors. We can learn about our own needs and meet them in healthy ways.

I know from personal experience that there is no greater ally than God in the quest for emotional freedom. According the scriptures, He is the best ally in the quest for physical freedom and the only path to spiritual freedom.

1 comment:

Bjorn said...

Very true! It's easy to forget how freedom means we need to optimize freedom by making the decisions that will lead to the most freedom. Heaven is our goal, and on earth we can experience something close to it by choosing things that give us peace of mind, the ultimate freedom. When we get there, we'll have much more freedom than we can even fathom now.