Freedom is not just an opportunity – it is also a responsibility
Our culture celebrates freedom, yet it doesn’t give the freedom to drive to those below the legal driving age. Why not? Because they may not have the intelligence to navigate complex traffic situations or the self-discipline to drive below the speed limit.
This example illustrates the importance of providing people resources to exercise their freedom responsibly. Otherwise, the very freedom that they seek as an opportunity may lead them into perplexity or even adversity, as when a teenager driving a car meets with an accident.
Therefore, while championing freedom as a cherished opportunity that everyone deserves, we need to also remember that freedom is a grave responsibility. And while seeking freedom for ourselves or sharing it with others, we need to equip others and ourselves with the resources to exercise that freedom responsibly.
The Bhagavad-gita illustrates this dual dynamic in approaching freedom. It (18.63) acknowledges that Arjuna is free to act as he desires, but it also urges him to first deliberate his options. How can he deliberate thus? By having a worldview that places his options in context. Indeed, the Gita provides him – and through him all of us – such a worldview that explains our place and purpose in the world, thereby revealing how to best use our free will.
The Gita explains that we all are eternal souls, parts of the divine, on a multi-life journey of spiritual evolution. We can evolve when we use our free will in a mood of loving service to our divine source, Krishna. By serving him, we can find deep satisfaction and make significant contribution during our life-journey. And we can progress towards eternal love and joy.
When we thus see our various opportunities within that broader context, we can use our free will responsibly to make informed, intelligent decisions.
Think it over:
- Why are children not given the right to drive?
- What does the championing of freedom need to be balanced with? Why?
- How does the Gita equip us to use our freedom responsibly?
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