Fear of Freedom / by scottdemarco@msn.com

I remember my first day of nursery school. It is a memory etched deep within my soul because it is my first profound memory of separation. The realization that I was being abandoned suddenly dawned on me; my body was wracked with tears as I watched my mother wave goodbye and walk out the door.

We have all experienced that same sense of loneliness—the feeling of coming untethered and falling victim to our circumstances. We all learned, in that moment, what it means to survive. Fear happens, trust is gone, and the hierarchy of needs becomes our touchstone.

It is this universal human experience that begins to form and shape our idea that something, or someone, greater than ourselves can, at any moment, leave us. We begin to doubt that there is surety in our world—that we are always cared for, that we are never alone.

Many of us were socialized not just through our daily interactions with our family and friends, but also through the teachings of religion. God is this and I am that. God and I are in harmony or discord depending upon my behavior or beliefs. Rules, rituals, dogmas, and dictums lend order to our world. Civilization has taken hold of our psyche and we either conform to our surroundings or suffer the consequences.

Eventually we develop some sense of self, and when we do we start to question the confines of our world. Those things that we have come to accept as truth either do or don’t feel right. We test the waters and we realize that separation feels good. We assert our independence and we insist that our difference of opinion is important. Authority is challenged, and with it, our sense of humanity is individualized.

We ask ourselves, "Why is that true and why should I believe it?" We are at a turning point and we start to choose which things to embody and which to discard. We are evolving, and our existential self begins the reconciliation with human existence.

Heady? Heavy? Yes, but we have to see where and when we chose the path to believe or not believe in a God of our understanding. We must decide not to fear our freedom. In a spiritual sense we must choose to "live free or die."

At some point we come face to face with God. Are we brave enough to doubt the idea of God that we have been taught, or do we dare risk separation? We remember the pain of that first separation and that fear of loneliness hovers like a dark cloud ready to consume. Is it possible to make a leap of faith from the faith that we know?

Do we conform and find comfort in shared beliefs or do we think independently? And if we conform, do we still allow ourselves the option to change our mind and choose something different?

There is no right or wrong answer to those questions, but sooner or later most of us face our demons. Ask yourself, have my choices have in any way caused separation from anyone or anything just because my religion says so? Am I judging others morally, or devaluing anyone because their behavior or beliefs are different than my own? Have the rules, rituals, dogmas and dictums in which I practice provided a safe haven founded in fear, or in love?

Much of the world has mistaken a sense of peace for a sense of security—one is spiritual the other is physical. Wars have plagued humankind from the very beginning of time because we believe that God takes sides.

The best parent has no favorite child.

The best parent loves without condition.

The best parent would never pit his children against one another.

If God cares about anything, it is freedom.

Freedom to be.

Freedom to live.

Freedom to love.

The truth is you are free to choose your God:

The truth is whatever you say God is...God is.