Freedom Must Be Lived In Terms of Responsibleness

Freedom is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl knew something about freedom–and being deprived of it. He was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II.

He watched people react in the face of great deprivation and facing death. He discovered that the key to survival from a mental health perspective was having meaning in life.

He also saw the reaction to freedom.

I’d have to imagine he’d be cringing at the attitudes of people over the past few years who keep screaming for freedom–as in leave me alone so I can do what I want to do–with no companion thought of responsibility. Or to paraphrase an old movie, “Responsibility? I don’t need no stinkin’ responsibility.”

Jesus often set people free. And usually he gave them something to do, some responsibility.

He was walking one day and ten guys with very serious and debilitating skin diseases approached him. Jesus had sympathy. He said, “Go and show yourself to the priests and you will be made clean.” (You had to have a priest certify your ritual cleanliness so that you could be admitted back to the community.)

They did this with great joy and were healed. Healing… responsibility.

That story has a peculiar ending for us to ponder in this racially charged era we find ourselves in.

One of the ten came back to thank and praise Jesus. One! And that one–he was a Samaritan, a person of a different “race.” That story was designed to rock the world of the Jewish listeners. What!? The good guy is not one of us?

Unless we become responsible people, our freedom degenerates into self-absorption.



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