We like to think of America as the land of the free, but how many of us are really free? Sure we have some very real liberty such as freedom of speech and religion, the freedom to choose our own path, at least as far as our circumstances allow, but does that really make us free?
How many of us are free from our culture? Free from the opinions of our families, friends, or rivals?
Most of our ideas come from others. They come to us like cards. We can shuffle them around, maybe even discard a few. Most new ideas are really just old ones repackaged.
I have known a few people in the education field. They tell me that they get pushed to try to get as many students as possible to go into this field or that. Seems many people see education merely as a means to program people, as you would a machine, to fit better into the larger machine of society. I don’t mean this in any sort of political or conspiratorial way. There are just so many forces that try to shape us into what they want us to be.
Take my cousin for instance. I want to start by saying I love my cousin and have the deepest respect for him, I am just using him as an example. He is by far one of the most intelligent people I know. He loved the ocean and wanted to be a marine biologist. My grandfather, who is sort of obsessed with money, or really the security he thinks money brings, began working on him. He told him that scientists don’t make any money. He convinced him that he should be an engineer. He told him how much money they could make and that worked. So he went to college and flunked out because he wasn’t interested. My aunt told him she wouldn’t pay his way anymore, so he either needed to get a job or join the military. He talked to a recruiter and joined the navy to become a nuclear engineer. He passed all the tests, went through all the school, and got assigned to a nuclear submarine. Suddenly he came down with type one diabetes and after over a year of giving him the runaround they have declared him unfit for duty. So now he is about to start a legal battle to stay in the navy. If he loses he will probably find a job in the private sector, I am not worried about him landing on his feet. However, all of this for a dream that isn’t really his own.
From what I have seen, the only way anyone is able to find real freedom is prayer. In the silence of meditation you are introduced to the real you. You come face to face with your own God-given uniqueness. Slowly you begin to cast away all the ties that bind you.
While I was in prison I taught a class on Christian meditation. We started with just six of us, and by the time we were forced to end the class, we had over fifty people. It was amazing to watch the transformation that we all went through. By the time the class was canceled there were incarcerated men who were more free than most people out on the streets. The guards used to hate seeing us smiling and laughing. We were happier than they were and we were supposed to be miserable. It was amazing.
The thing about being free is that you will either help set the people around you free, or drive them deeper into their captivity.