The struggle for freedom is never over unless and until a person decides to quit struggling.
I am not speaking of struggle that is opposite to surrender - by no means. Acceptance of struggle is surrender. Just as a chick struggles to break the shell of the egg (armed with the only tooth it will ever possess) or as a butterfly struggles out of its chrysalis, we must struggle to scale the heights of relation, unaided.
Why unaided? Because, just as the chick is weakened if the shell is removed for it, and the butterfly is weakened by assistance, so are we. So the thing we struggle most to surrender to is the reality that it is only I who can choose to evolve, and it is only I who can choose to abandon my struggle for my liberty.
"Everyone has the right to believe and accept what they want, but reality doesn't discriminate. Reality is not different for different people. Not once has reality excused anyone for good intentions, ignorance or stubbornness. Reality shows no mercy, accepts no excuses, and issues no pardons. Reality does not "turn the other cheek." This does not mean that reality is cruel, it just means that reality is." - Floyd Maxwell
The discussion in my neck of the woods is about democracy. It seems that the powers that be have a test for our city: are we fit to govern ourselves? And this is the test: if we do not do all that is in our power to resist allowing a paternal state to demote our elected officials - the mayor, the city council, and even the school board - to the position of mere figureheads, we will forfeit our right to govern ourselves. The discussion is not, "You can't do that." They can, and they will if we don't stop them. The discussion is not, "Give us our freedom." They are not the ones who are the guardians of our local freedoms. We are. And if we abdicate, no matter how valid our excuse for doing so may seem to be, we have still abdicated our responsibility.
The discussion is also about proper education. Paraphrasing Helga Zepp-Larouche, we must consider that it would be good if the state took responsibility for excellence in education, so that the people would be equipped to govern themselves. But the state may not do that. It is our future, our children, our own lives that are made better through education, and ours that are limited by ignorance. In this world, then, it is only my solo effort to educate myself that will gain me the keys to the authority and power that comes from being educated.
That is the equality that all humans can claim. The right to do whatever is needed to solve their problems. That is the determiner of whether we are going to evolve or die.
The danger in growing past youth still looking for someone else to undertake to care for my basic needs (defined in the United States Constitution as Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness) is to guarantee that they will be not so well considered as they would be were I to assume the absolute responsibility (and with it the authority) for securing these needs. If, as a child, the culmination of my education is that I am adept in being responsible for my own life, my own liberty, and in the discovery of what it is that secures my happiness, then food, clothing and shelter will be acquired naturally as an outgrowth of reason and reasonable negotiation with other free beings. If not, then that becomes another thing that I am responsible to secure for myself, or I will suffer the consequences. This is decreed by reality. Pity would decree hand-outs, but dignity and divinity require self-determination.
Here where I am we have a paternal state speaking to what they think may be a developmentally retarded (child) municipality, saying, "You have two choices: either win this contest, or you will lose your right to govern yourself until you can wrest it back." It doesn't matter that we are saying to the parent, "You raised me to be this way." The parent says, "I may have. But if you want to make another decision than the one I make for you, you have to make it, you have to secure it, and you have to maintain it, independent of my whim. You know what I am willing to do for you. What price are you willing to pay to have other than that which I decree for you?"
For all of us, this is what our own past says to us. I am reminded of the story in the bible that tells of a crippled man who had set beside the pool of Bethesda for 15 years. He did so because from time to time an angel would come and trouble the waters, and the first one to reach the waters after that would be healed.
He told Jesus, "But I have no one to put me into the pool."
So Jesus asked him one simple question, "Do you want to be healed? Then get up and walk!"
Question - what was different from the time that Jesus walked into the room to the time when the man got up and walked out of his own volition? Obviously, even the power that Jesus had to heal was present before that moment. It was only a decision to avail himself of his life that gave that man his life. He was a new creature, no longer sold under sin (his and those who violated him), but free. All things were new.
And so we, as self-determining beings, no matter how wounded in the past, have this moment to take up our own sick bed and walk - if we really want to be healed. There is no other healer but our personal decision and commitment. We must evaluate what we hold most sacred - is it our past failures, or our present potential, our ability to choose wisely and determine our future? Do I uphold my sacred right to be crippled as result of the past, or my sacred ability to choose my course toward wholeness in the future?
This is a very hard decision - almost the hardest one in the universe for one who is used to being a victim to make. There is only one harder road: to continue to allow something other than my decision to be whole to determine my future.
That is the Judas road - and it leads to a traitor's end. The only difference between Judas and Peter, who also betrayed the Christ, is that Judas quit. But, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning." Peter stayed around until he was able to repent and be forgiven. He felt really bad, but he kept working, and the result? He earned the "keys to the kingdom." That's the rock upon which the real church is built - the truth. You will know the truth (that each new moment brings its own forgiveness with it if you will just do what is needed in this moment and not look back) and the truth shall make you free.
Broad is the gate and easy is the way that leads to destruction, and many choose it. But narrow is the gate and hard is the way that leads to life, and few find it. It is easy to be like minor children who cry out against a tyrant. It is a lie, though, to assume that we are not free to leave the tyrant's domain. It seems easier for a time to complain and complain and to beg and beg and to manipulate folks to throw the crumbs under the table to you like a little dog. But you will only reap what you have begged, not what you have chosen to build for yourself. That is your choice. But it is not the Royal Road.
Some say its better to be a live dog than a dead lion. I am not so sure. Instead, I will follow the advice of the old American Spiritual of slavery days that goes, "I done made my vow to the Lord, and I never shall turn back. I will go, I shall go, to see what the end will be."
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Toward a more perfect union,