Thursday, December 3

"The more freedom we enjoy, the greater the responsibility we bear, toward others as well as ourselves." Oscar Arias Sanchez

The comments and dialog from the last few days reminded of this quote. It, too, is a great reminder that whatever grace or truth or freedom we’ve been granted involves as much responsibility as it does liberty for ourselves.  One interpretation is the cultural one; that in a ‘free’ culture or nation we have a responsibility to individuals or nations that do not enjoy our measure or version of freedom. That one scares me a bit.

That same logic can and has been used as an excuse for fairly overt imperialism since World War II by all of the Super Powers, so while I do believe that it is valid to a degree, I also think that we need to keep our eyes wide open to the fact that politicians use it to manipulate us. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t come to the aid of those less fortunate on the international stage, but let’s be honest and realistic about why our governments are imposing their definition of order and democracy on other parts of the world.  I mean really, we could do a lot more good in Darfur than in Afghanistan, don’cha think?

The definition I prefer for this quote, the one that means the most to me, involves a more internalized application. Whether our personal freedom is social, political, economic, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, etc.; whatever that freedom or combination of freedoms amounts to, in that regard we have a responsibility to give from that place of freedom to others.

It’s the same general concept as the geopolitical application, but the opportunity for it to be abused is dramatically lower because this is something that we monitor ourselves, that we have the opportunity to gauge and check continually based on whatever moral or ethical guidelines direct the way we live our lives.

We can call it paying it back or paying it forward, either one works for me, but I try to remind myself of what it is I’m thankful for on a fairly regular basis and give out of that. Since February of this year, when I made choices to dramatically simplify my life and go in a completely different direction, that list is pleasantly short - a list of needs with very few unnecessary clutter – but the things on it are weighty. It makes me think about how it is that I want to pay back, in the now and in the future, al the little ways I can be generous (without money) to the people I love and the ones I don’t know, and what I’d like to do in the future if I ever manage to finish and publish ‘the novel’. And I honestly get more excited thinking about that than about what new gadget or comfort I might want to buy next.

Who said responsibility sucks?

That’s not the question. This is: What is the freedom or freedoms that you are most thankful for, and how do you pay back or forward? What are the big or little ways that you give from whatever freedom you enjoy?