Fourth of July is observed as the US Independence Day. This celebration calls for a study on the problem of Freedom in World, and the problem of Freedom in individual human experience.
In my analysis, freedom is a myth, an illusion for the man is fundamentally trapped inside the belly of a great fish prepared by God.
The biblical prophet Jonah represents the reality of my life’s journey. God has foreknowledge of my thoughts and actions and has prepared the place for my entrapment without giving me any further access to seek the freedom of movement. Just like Jonah, I am surprised to find myself alive in the body of a fish. Just like Jonah, I give thanks to God for keeping me alive. However, I do not share the hope and confidence of Jonah about the ultimate deliverance. Jonah fervently prayed and the fish vomited him onto the dry land after holding him captive for three days and three nights. I do not pray for my freedom as I am not born free. The big fish values its own freedom of movement and declares itself to be the champion of freedom without any concern for the lack of my individual freedom and personal liberty. I may share Jonah’s sense of self-pride, self-centered egotism, without proper respect for God or love for my enemies. I want God to account for His own actions while I taste the bitter fruits borne out of my own actions.
India is my country of origin. I left India in January 1984 due to a concern about my freedom after alienation or estrangement from my birth social community which has driven me to relinquish my Permanent Regular Commission in the Indian Army Medical Corps. I reached the United States during July 1986 to eventually experience that I have lost all freedom; I gave up freedom associated with my Indian citizenship and found that my existence is not dependent upon freedom but upon Divine Providence and Divine Grace. Do I have a choice? Is freedom an entitlement? Is there freedom in Free World? Freedom is it self-determined or is it determined by external causes?
The word ‘freedom’ has many meanings – theological, metaphysical, psychological, moral, natural, and civil. Freedom may mean enjoyment of personal liberty, of not being a slave, nor a prisoner, and it speaks about the freedom in acting and choosing. Freedom may imply the state of not being subject to determining forces.
I arrived in the United States for I believe in the Motto of this Nation: “In God We Trust.” The New Testament Book, The Epistle of Apostle Paul to Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse. 19 speaks of my quest for freedom: “Consequently, you are no longer Foreigners and Aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,”
I seek freedom to enter God’s household for I am not a foreigner, or alien. There is a promise in The New Testament Book, The Epistle of Apostle Paul to Romans, Chapter 9, verse. 25: As He says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;”
“Free World” is a Cold War era term often used by the US to describe those countries that are not in the sphere of influence of Communist States like the Soviet Union, or the People’s Republic of China. United States is the Leader of the Free World, and it is the world’s Democratic Superpower. In response to Communist China’s military occupation of sovereign nation of Tibet, the United States to defend its own national interests and to combat the threat of Communist Expansionism, President Truman and President Eisenhower initiated programs in 1950s to render assistance to the Tibetan Resistance Movement to uphold the principles of Freedom and Democracy in the Land of Tibet. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States (1961-1963) created a military alliance/pact between the US, India, and Tibet to contain the military threat posed by Communist China.
In September 1969, I made a deliberate choice to serve in the Indian Army Medical Corps to face the military challenge and threat posed by China after her brutal attack on India across the Himalayan frontier in 1962. On completion of my military training, I joined the US, India, Tibet military alliance/pact and was posted to Headquarters Establishment No. 22, a military organization also known to public as Vikas Regiment and Special Frontier Force. I view myself as very passionate defender of Freedom and Democracy. During the years spent in India, in my imagination I had freedom to choose and act and deliberately expressed this sense of personal freedom when I got married in January 1973. This personal choice had its own consequences. It initiated a process of alienation and estrangement from my birth-related social community. The first blow to my sense of social identity and birth affiliation was delivered in May 1976 while I was at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. By year 1982, I fully recognized that I have no freedom to choose, or act without compromising my sense of self-respect, and self-dignity. For all practical purposes, in my estimate, I was transformed into a Foreigner or Alien while I was still serving my country as a Commissioned Officer of its Armed Forces. It undermined my ability to serve in the Armed Forces to defend Freedom of the Country while in my perception I existed as Foreigner or Alien. At that time, as the father of two young children, I felt that I have no choice other than that of leaving India to find a place in another part of Free World, a place prepared for me by God. Having stepped inside of the mouth of a big fish, I got easily swallowed by the force of the external circumstances. Now, I am conscious of the lack of freedom to make choices, or I may state that I am only free to make a choice that is foreordained or predetermined.
In the drama of human life and history, do we have capacity to choose our Life according to our Free Will? The issue of human freedom, and Freedom in World may have to be reconciled with God’s omniscience, and omnipotence. We must understand as to what extent the will of an individual can and does determine some of his acts. If man is entirely dependent upon God’s power, can man make bad, or evil choices? Do we need divine grace for both meritorious, and even terrible acts? How to define the problem of the universal supposition of responsibility for personal actions? Can there be Freedom in the absence of Divine Providence, and Divine Grace?
DETERMINISM AND FREE WILL:
The kid in the above photo image apparently has free will and can choose to get wet in the rain. He can also choose to remain under the shade and keep dry. This ability to choose is operated by an external contingency called rain. Does man have the natural ability to make choices in the face of all types of external contingencies? Plato held that actions are determined by the extent of a person’s understanding, or reasoning. The New Testament Book, The Epistle of Apostle Paul to Romans, Chapter 8, verses 28-30 describe the concept of “Predestination.” Verse. 30 reads: “Moreover, those He predestined, them He also called; those He called, them He also Justified; those He justified, them He also glorified.” I live in expectation of finding this ‘glory’ in the eyes of God.
The term free will refers to the power or capacity to choose among alternatives. It refers to the ability to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Will is the factor which turns human thought into human action and behavior. Existentialist thinkers like Jean Paul Sartre speak about the concept of a radical, perpetual, and frequently agonizing freedom of choice. Sartre claims that man is “condemned to be free” even though his situation may be wholly determined. Behavioral psychologists hold the view that human action and behavior is determined by the nature of an external environmental stimulus. Sigmund Freud held the view that human actions are determined by hidden mental causes which control their actions; “You have an illusion of a psychic freedom within you which you do not want to give up.” Freud recommends that this “deeply rooted belief in psychic freedom and choice” must be given up because it “is quite unscientific.” Man appears to be subject to the Law of Cause and Necessity or is governed by a doctrine of Determinism.
THE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION:
Saint Augustine (354-430), Doctor of the Church, founder of Christian theology followed the doctrine of predestination or divine grace that states God’s superintendence of the Whole Cosmos and everything in it.
Martin Luther (November 10, 1483, to February 18, 1546), German theologian, leader of the Protestant Reformation held the view that everything is determined by God from the beginning.
John Calvin (1509 – 1564), French Protestant theologian of the Reformation held the view that human free will is predetermined. While rejecting the role of free will, Calvinism maintains that God’s grace is irresistible.
Saint Thomas Aquinas held the view that God’s omnipotence does not include predetermination of human will. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that predestination is consistent with free will since God moves the soul according to its nature. Do I make my own choices while God foreordained my circumstances? Does God have foreknowledge of my reaction to His Choice? If God foreordained the circumstances, the choices, and the destiny of the person according to His Perfect Will, how to explain the exercise of free will? It appears to me that God may elect or predestinate the circumstances of a person and make a choice on His own initiative based on His knowing in advance the reactions of the person to His Will. Man’s free will is like the game of chess; man can make his moves while playing the game according to God’s plan while God is the second Player with whom man must contend.
The Hindu Temple, Malibu, Southern California. Is this the Temple in which I am destined to worship the LORD GOD? The New Testament Book, The Epistle of Apostle Paul to Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse. 21 reads: “In Him the Whole building is joined together and rises to become a Holy Temple in the LORD.” Why does this Temple in Malibu treats me as a Foreigner and Alien providing an external contingency that took away my Freedom?
Rudra Narasimham, Rebbapragada
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.