— Philaret of Moscow
What kind of freedom do you struggle for, or do you struggle at all? It seems to me, in the light of the saint’s words, that struggling for ‘a free society’ involves exactly what is opposite to true freedom. I think I already knew that, but I still think that struggling for ‘external freedom,’ as he calls it, is a good thing, and worthwhile.
Why? Because social, economic, informational and political freedom, all of which are ‘external,’ still prepare the ground for authentic, for real ‘internal’ freedom, which is ultimately the goal, which is the freedom that Christ Himself proclaims in the Gospel. What I find, though, is that when religious people quote the saints in sayings like the above, they are somehow and subtly trying to discredit and derail the struggle for personal liberty, by making it seem that external and internal freedom are opposites.
The freedom of the Christian, as defined by Christ, is a perfect freedom, internal and external, and a Christian society is not one in which an external authority or power, whether Church or State, restricts people to ‘make’ them law-abiding and religiously conforming, but one in which laws are at a minimum, restricting only what is irrefutably unlawful, and where freedom is at a maximum, allowing people (singular and plural) to make their own choices.
I don’t think we have seen that kind of society yet. We’ve been dumbed down for so long by oligarchies governmental, ecclesiastical, ‘educational’, and economic, kept at the level of ‘women and children,’ both classically categorized as ‘idiots,’ that a truly free society is not yet possible, anywhere on earth. This is why it is not a question of democracy versus autocracy (monarchy) at all, as we have been led to believe. Both can, and do, operate in exactly the same way.
Instead, it is a question of knowledge versus ignorance, not accidental, but planned.
Information and, hence, education were once completely under the thumb of intellectual elites who controlled and selectively limited access through systems of education and book publishing. The ‘information age’ only just begun and as of today still ‘free,’ has finally opened the door to the freedom that Christ, yes, that Christ is talking about, even ‘behind the backs’ of those who ‘represent’ Him.
Yes, freedom is ‘a question of knowledge versus ignorance’ before all else, and self-control and social harmony are both functions of it in a truly free person and society. Let us, brethren, see our way past ‘spiritual materialism’ as well as hedonistic individualism, to where ‘the salvation of mankind’ issues from the life-giving spring of the Holy Triad, whose life is our life, whose freedom is our freedom, else we have no life at all, nor freedom, that with the saints we may cry, ‘Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes!’