Finding Freedom...from Ourselves
Nearly everyone on this planet acknowledges some measurement of good and evil (positive and negative, opposite forces, yin and yang, or whatever you choose to call it).
It’s a timeless, universal concept providing the underpinnings for arguably a more divisive discussion of moral absolutes—palpable, unquestionable forces at play that let us know what is right or wrong, regardless of whether or not we choose to abide or even acknowledge them. Is this God at work?-perhaps.
For many of us, we cleave to self-awareness, self-performance, and a general sense of goodness as the yardstick of morality (being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth, good-natured, a good person, and so on).
But it begs the question, “If there is no God, where does this moral authority come from?” Some may contend that it is an evolutionary byproduct of selective choice inculcated over the years to ensure the success of the human race. Others may conclude it spawned from a desire for power and control through legalism and governmental laws. Regardless of what you believe is the origin of moral authority, the fact remains (by any measure) we all fall well short of the mark. History clearly demonstrates—through unabated wars, political strife, abject poverty, systemic greed, corporate corruption, and ethnic cleansing (to name just a few)—that moral authority, while prevalent and understood, is not universally expressed, or innately practiced and therefore its source must run deeper.
Many religions believe moral authority is a directive from God, established at the time of creation of man. Such notions are richly recorded in Judeo-Christian teachings (and many other faiths and creeds). But the burden of living a perfectly moral, sin free life is all but impossible, painfully exhausting, and (at worst) enslaving. In an attempt to achieve some measure of goodness, we unintentionally become judges of others and slaves to ourselves and the false idols we embrace (relationships, money, power, influence). So how good is good enough?
The truth is that our very human nature prevents us from answering that cryptic question; simply because in our quest for the moral high ground we will always want more—more everything. And yet, whether we believe in God or not, we all have an internal moral compass. So what is keeping us from attaining so-called enlightenment or what the Jews call shalom (or peace)? One may conclude that more self-cultivation, awareness, and meditation (all excellent tools of the mind & body) alone hold the answer.
But what many of us are seeking may be far simpler...freedom—freedom from ourselves, freedom from self-doubt, freedom from fear and the performance driven reality of the human experience. After all, we will never achieve enlightenment if we continually bathe ourselves in self-righteousness, moralism, and good behavior. This inner freedom to do the right thing, be a good steward of the earth, and friend to all may have little to do with higher power.
It may be that the freedom we seek lies in our youthful inner self…awakening to the present with an imaginative mind, open to possibilities but ever cognizant of one the most basic principles we’ve learned along our journey–that positive thinking breeds positive action. Is this a moral absolute?–yep I think so!