Thursday, October 4, 2012

what it means to be free

Well, it happened. After doing two years of highschool English homework with Nawal, she finally read a book for class that I had not even heard of before. Shocking, for both of us. So when she finished her assignments with the book, she said she really liked it and gave me her student edition to read.

The book was written from the first-person perspective of a guy named Equality 7-2521 who lives in a futuristic collectivist society, where no one is unique, there is no individual identity, and even the word "I" is unknown. He slowly escapes this society and fights to become an individual who is free to think and create and choose based on his preferences and desires.

Knowing that the author grew up in Soviet Russia helps to explain her disdain for collectivism in the extreme, and her passion for independence and self-reliance. But the thing that alarmed me so much was that the hero of her story pole-vaulted from having no concept of self to being completely and utterly self-absorbed. Here are some of the "enlightened revelations" Equality 7-2521 came to by the end of the book:

"And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I'." 

"Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: 'I will it!'" 

"My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose...I am a man. this miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before!"

"I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them. I ask none to live for me, nor do I live for any others."

Are these statements distressing to anyone else out there? Can anyone tell me why a high school teacher would want to put these ideas in a teenager's brain? For me, these are disturbing conclusions because they are so opposite of what I've learned that life is about. Here's some of the teachings of the Main Character in my story:

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

"Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

I have hope, joy, forgiveness, and life because the Main Character, Jesus, did not live for himself, but gave his life for me. And my life has purpose and fulfillment and peace when I remember that my life is not my own - it was bought at a high price. It is all about him and for him, and in that, there is the ultimate freedom! And in following him I find that I can love others, show mercy, extend grace, and lay down my life because he did that for me.

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