“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
If you have not read Man’s Search for Meaning or you read it along time ago, now is the time to pick that book back up again! Viktor Frankl survived the Hollocaust and reflects on the human struggle to find a deeper meaning in life. He saw that some people found a deep place within that no beating, no amount of starvation, no external situation could touch. The people with this deep reserve found freedom in love, the connection to another human being whether present or not, in humor, and in the knowledge that we always possess the ability to choose our attitude.
Today, I am remembering the Exodus story where God sends Moses and Aaron to bring the people out of slavery. In reading the text, one would think that after this extraordinary experience of God’s power working through humans and through nature, that the people would live their new life in awe and gratitude. One would think that the people would dedicate the rest of their lives to serving this all powerful God. You may remember that their devotion lasts for about a minute. Quickly, we see them embrace this new freedom with careless abandonment and the need to be more like the Egyptians with golden gods. Who can blame them? For centuries, they saw the freedom of the Egyptians compared to their slavery as something to desire, to attain. When you are in charge, you have all the freedom, right? Sometimes what looks like freedom is only cover up for a different kind of slavery. Glitter and gold can be deceiving.
But, God desired the people follow a different path to freedom. This path says that freedom comes from living in right relationship with each other and with total devotion to God. Freedom is only freedom if it is yoked with responsibility. The union of apparent opposites (Hatha).
“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” Viktor Frankl