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Truth Infused With Hope: Freedom vs. Autonomy

14-10-2018

Imagine two kids on the playground. One starts doing something the other doesn’t like. The second one says, “Hey, quit it!” The first retorts, “It’s a free country isn’t it?” This may be a playground level argument, and rather unsophisticated, but really it models many other, more mature conflict. Doesn’t freedom mean I can do what I want? In our clip from the Simpsons, Chief Wiggum says, “I say, ‘If it feels good do it.’” The doctor giggles and snaps Wiggum’s underwear. It feels good to the doctor. But Wiggum doesn’t like it, “Don’t snap my undies.” If it feels good, just do it leads to inevitable conflict when what feels good to one person doesn’t feel good to another!

Imagine now, another playground scene. This is taken from real life. Imagine a junior high school surrounded by a fence. Each time you drive by you see all the kids leaning against the fence, gazing out at the world. You drive by day after day seeing these kids leaning on the fence, and you feel bad for them, so you decide to do something about it. You talk to the school and bring it up with the school board and the decision is made to remove the fence over the weekend. The next week you drive by, expecting to see the kids reveling in their newfound freedom. Instead, you see all the kids far away from the road leaning against the school building! You thought they were sad being restricted by the fence. It turns out that they actually found the fence to be the support they needed to be comfortable! Now that the world can come closer, they retreat to the school building to find safety. They now lean against the only other support they can find.

There’s a powerful lesson in this true story about kids and their need for boundaries. There’s a similar need for all of us to have good boundaries. Yet our culture has decided there is no objective truth, no objective boundaries, that boundaries are not something “out there” giving me space in which to move, but boundaries have now been withdrawn to our own person. My boundaries are what I choose, and frankly only apply to my body. In removing objective boundaries that give clear space in which to move and clear demarcation of where it’s not ok to move, we have actually shrunk the zone of safety.

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Filetype: MP3 - Size: 45.25MB - Duration: 49:26 m (128 kbps 48000 Hz)