Saturday, January 20, 2007

Stretching My Mind a bit

Most of you know from reading my blog that I am a huge fan of the writer Lin Yutang. I first read his works when I was in my late teens and was so intrigued by his wisdom and the beauty in which he wrote.
One of his books, " Between Tears and Laughter" written about war is mind stretching even to this day.
He spends some time writing about materialism, and compares Power as the harlot and Peace as the "lady". Those in charge tend to want to be with the "harlot", rather than the "lady". Peace watches through the window as those in office party with "power" wondering if after the night of wildness, they will see her (Peace) true value.
Yutang also spends a great deal of time writing about the then current speech of Roosevelt on the Four Freedoms. Freedom of speech, Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, and then these two freedoms....Freedom from want and Freedom from fear.
Yutang brings up a point or two that had me put on my deep thinking hat for a bit. Things I had never put into my own words, but had felt them in some way or another.
he says..."Freedom from fear is not freedom, but political security. Freedom from want is not freedom but economic security. Both may be achieved at the cost of human freedom, and probably will, if we think too much about animal security. Nothing gives such a feeling of perfect freedom from want and fear to a dog as a collar around its neck. Its next meal is guaranteed. A bird in a cage has exchanged its freedom on the wing for freedom from the preying hawk and freedom from starvation in the snow. but a bird which deliberately flies into a cage cannot be said to be fighting for its freedom except by the most caustic casuistry"...further on he writes, " It is possible for a man to have all the Four Freedoms - the freedom to talk and think as he pleases and to be fed and sheltered in security- and yet be a slave."
He later writes about free will and I sat there thinking and thinking on how I could define free will and it was hard for me to define it. Yutang says in this book, " But while we are arguing about the content of freedom and raising the question whether the concept of human freedom has not changed, we are threatened with another more serious and more fundamental matter, which has come about entirely unnoticed, and that is, Freedom of the Will has disappeared. Unless we recapture freedom of will, we shall not have the strength to restore human freedom, and unless we restore human freedom, we shall accomplish nothing with the Four Freedoms, even if we attain them. Why has the Freedom of Will disappeared ? "
After reading that I mused, " no wonder I can't really wrap my thoughts around what Freedom of Will really is".
You see the dictionary tells us Free will is....
1. The ability or discretion to choose; free choice: chose to remain behind of my own free will.
2. The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will.

Those commercials I saw yesterday, all those telling us we are not as good as we can be because our skin is sagging, our hair is graying, our skin is not baby soft any longer, well its hard to live a life with free will to age as we should or have a tooth out of place, hair that does not shine like a mirror. We are pushed on every side to not walk the street as we are. We are not free to choose to get old gracefully, or to be young and have a less than perfect body. We are scorned and laughed at, children made fun of for not having certain shoes, or for having a quiet nature. We have lost our free will in so many areas. We have even forgot to hold this free will dear to us and fight for it. We have lost ourselves somehow. I know how in a way, I read about it.
" The nature of man is usually quiet, but when it is affected by the external world, it begins to have desires. With the thinking mind becoming conscious of the impact of the material world, we begin to have likes and dislikes. When the likes and dislikes are not properly controlled and out conscious minds are distracted by the material world,. we lose our true selves and the principle of Reason in nature is destroyed. When man is constantly exposed to the things of the material world which affect him and does not control his likes and dislikes, then his overwhelmed by the material reality and becomes dehumanized or materialistic. When man becomes dehumanized or materialistic then the principle of Reason in nature is destroyed and man in submerged in his own desires. From this arise rebellion, disobedience, cunning and deceit, and general immorality. We have then a picture of the strong bullying the weak, the majority persecuting the minority, the physically brave going for violence, the sick and crippled not being taken cared for. This is the way of chaos." Lin Yutang summed up our world today pretty well.
Now of course not is all that way, there is good, wonderful good in the world but we do all live in fear, fear of aging, fear of walking certain streets, our homes are alarmed, our cars are locked, our children never left alone to play carefree in the yard. We have lost much of our free will.
These are my thoughts today, as I sit by the fireside, stretch your mind, disagree, agree, think, open wide your eyes, and watch the birds that fly free by your window, yes we use the words, "fly free".

On page 1 of this book, "Between Tears and Laughter", Yutang says, "Nobody is ever misunderstood at a fireside: he may only be disagreed with. Agreement of opinion is the least important thing: disagreement is not only profitable, but neccessary to thinking. At the fireside of a friend there are many a heated argument, after which both friends see many things not seen before. A writer who is willing to let go is sure of being understood, and only friendship which can stand occasional plain speaking is worth having."
Sit by my fireside today with me friend !


Peggy said...

enjoyed this post very much!

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this post.. I've been doing the same thing in my own life for the past year..
I'm glad that I'm not the only one who walking down the same road..

Denise in TN

A New Year

It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...