Sometimes I am asked what my purpose is in writing this blog. People have complained that I am stirring things up, but offering no alternative. I am usually rather adamant that I do not intend to offer solutions, that might well be the job of another person or persons. I want to make people think. I want people to use their critical thinking skills, and if those are rusty or non-existent, then I want to stir something up. I want to reach people who are already in a state of very uncomfortable questioning, those who are being harassed and have no idea why, but most of all I want to expose the cruel tactics that are being used to beat the sheep and keep the flock subdued. These things are wrong and many people are being hurt.
I do not dispute, however, that it is a huge thing to set slaves free. The slaves who were set free in the civil war were beat down to the ground. They had learned to hide their true thoughts and feelings, and they knew what happened if one of them tried to escape. There was a hard row to hoe on the outside of the master’s house. Inside there was food, even though it was poor; there was the family, and the only culture that they had ever known. Difficult as it was, it made sense to stay. They might be beaten from time to time, the work was hard and the field was hot, but it was home. Even so, there were those who said they would rather be dead than to live like that, and they tried to escape.
Sometimes they were caught and punished. This punishment brought forth the desired brokenness in the slave’s spirit. Some tried to escape multiple times, and some eventually succeeded. For those who did get away, it was a hard life. They knew they would most likely never see their loved ones again. There was a long road ahead to freedom in the north, and once they were there, there was still a very hard life waiting.
Think about a prisoner who has been in prison for 20 years. He is referred to as institutionalized. This means that he is acclimated to life in prison, and even though in many ways it might be undesirable, it is better than being on the outside. He is accustomed to being fed at regular times, and accepting domination by the guards or other prisoners but he can accept the domination, or become one of the dominators. If he should be released and find himself on the outside, he will have a very difficult time adjusting. The prisoners on the inside had become his family, and their ways had become his family ways. The way they ate together, assembled for the guards together, and gathered in the yard together were the ways he was used to. Sometimes it wasn’t the best, but he knew what to expect from day to day.
Anyone who has been in a closed and controlled environment for an extended period of time might be able to understand these examples. Sometimes the problems you know are better than the ones you don’t know. There is also another principle at work here. This has to do with revolutions as well as slaves and prisoners. Often revolutions are brought about by angry grubby revolutionaries who are displeased with the conditions imposed upon them by those in control of the government, but they try to seize their freedom unlawfully. They are unprepared to earn it. They think they can improve their lives by improving their circumstances, but in the end, the revolution, even if it does succeed, does little to make things better. The same grubby people are in control and the same grubby conditions continue. These people thought to improve their destiny by improving their conditions, but the truth is that the only way to improve one’s destiny is by changing one’s character. This often takes hard work and a willingness to risk all. This takes hard work, and a different kind of work than the work of revolution and rebellion. Freedom must be earned, it cannot be seized. When it comes to revolution, open lawful channels of escape by improving character. This means doing the work that means your freedom will be won with legitimacy. Without having earned it, freedom can lead to disaster. The slaves who were freed by a bloody war fought presumably on their behalf had done nothing to earn their freedom. This does not mean that they deserved to be slaves, it simply points out the fact that freedom can be a mixed blessing. The same holds true for the inmate who is released after 20 years. All those years behind bars might not have been pleasant, but something was happening to him. He was being changed from a free man to a prisoner. True freedom must be won.
If you seize your freedom, you have increased your degree of responsibility. If you have seized it without earning it, then the commensurate degree of true authority will be lacking and you will be trying to exercise responsibility without having earned the authority. This can prove to be disastrous.
Let me sum it up: If you haven’t won your freedom lawfully, you will be cursed by your rebellion. If you seize your freedom before you are ready to exercise it properly, you set in motion all kinds of things that will wind up punishing you. It’s all about your state of readiness. If anyone would like to share thoughts about what it means to earn your freedom lawfully, versus seizing it illegally, I would like to hear from you.