“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When we give away our right to think for ourselves, we lose the possibility of ever coming to fullness of life.

It’s so easy to pose as a thinker when what we really are is a consumer of someone else’s thoughts—my husband’s maybe; my pastor’s perhaps; my mother’s, for instance. When we copy the opinions of another, repeat the ideas of others, critique nothing, cut no new mental paths for ourselves, swallow the world like whole cloth, we are not only enslaved, we are clones of those around us, pretending to be human. 

To take the freedom it requires to be myself, to say my ideas aloud, to be strong enough to confront someone else’s ideas, means that we claim the right to contribute to the scope and richness of the human enterprise.

We are so afraid to be different from those whose company we seek. But what is the use of my being with them if the real me is not really with them at all. Then we are both denied. I am denied the right to be me. They are denied the right to be influenced by me as I am by them.

Every one of us is meant to stand for something sometimes in life—to risk ridicule, to bear opposition, to believe differently in the face of those who believe otherwise. And that is often a very lonesome road, peopled only by those free of the seductions of human approval.

But that is the kind of freedom—freedom from the self, freedom for the gospel—that changes things.

-from Aspects of the Heart by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)
 


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