2022 Theme – Freedom

Remember that to change course or accept correction leaves you just as free as you were. The action is your own, driven by your own impulse and judgement, indeed your own intelligence.

Marcus Aurelius

I don’t think that I know what freedom really means because I have never been held captive. Not in a physical sense anyway. As a white male, living in a western country, I am possibly the most free person on the planet. I don’t want to take that for granted.

But, the greatest trick that we pull on ourselves is to think that we are trapped by something when we are not. The government, our family, our job, our friends, the weather, the global pandemic. But none of those things can hold me captive unless I want them to.

  • The government may put a mask mandate or vaccination mandate in place. They are unable to force me to do either. It is my choice to say yes or no to them. I am free.
  • Just because I have a wife and young children doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do, whenever I want to do it.
  • My employer cannot make me turn up to work every day. I can choose to do so or not.
  • My friends may not agree with choices that I make but their opinion cannot stop me from living my life.
  • Hot weather is not able to stop me from going for a long run. Cold weather is also unable to.
  • A virus cannot stop me from going out and enjoying life.

What I am not free from are the consequences of my actions.

  • Sure, I can choose to ignore government mandates, but the consequences of that choice could cost me.
  • I could ignore my family and prioritise other things, but the consequences of that choice could cost me relationally.
  • I could ignore my job and go to the beach all day, but the consequences of that choice could cost me financially (also, sand).
  • I could ignore my friends and lose them.
  • I could ignore the weather and burn or freeze.
  • I could ignore the virus and get sick.

I am not free from consequences, but I am free to choose which consequences I want.

So, in my freedom…

  • I am choosing to protect my family and community by getting vaccination and wearing a mask when necessary.
  • I am prioritising time with my family to build quality, long term relationships.
  • I am committed to my job which I find fulfilling, which will serve me, my family and the organisation I work for in the long term.
  • I heed the advice of my close friends, whom I’ve chosen wisely, which will help me make wise choices.
  • I will run whenever I want, regardless of the weather, but sometimes I will do it indoors on the treadmill, so that I can keep running for a long time to come.
  • I am choosing to restrict my movement in the short term to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can.

2022 is the year of freedom to choose the consequences that I want, which is an unbelievable gift that carries a weight of responsibility.

Guilty

We all have motivations that drive our behaviour, whether they be to feel good, or because of love, or a sense of responsibility and sometimes it comes from guilt.

Guilt can be a strong motivator and I have come across a number of people who will give generously to churches or charities to appease a sense of guilt they feel about one thing or another. Sometimes that guilt comes purely from within them, and other times the organisations they give to have sought to create a sense of guilt for them, so that they will give.

Whilst guilt can motivate us to do good things, it is not a quality long term motivating factor. After a while, people will generally tire of feeling guilty, like they are trapped in to doing something, and cease to engage in their generous acts.

A stronger motivation, and a somewhat healthier one, is a sense of responsibility. This is a more positive, proactive response that doesn’t require someone to feel bad about there current situation. Instead it provides a way for a person to use their current situation for the benefit of others. To act out of freedom.

As Australians, we are one of the wealthiest countries on earth, we could feel guilty about that and offer our generosity as some sort of payment to overcome the guilt, or we can see our place in the world as a gift, which carries with it a responsibility to help others who are not as financially blessed as we are.