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We Can Choose
We can choose our action in response to each circumstance. We do not have to choose and can go on in life creatively inactive, much as one would being another's ward; or we can exercise the other extreme option and take a final act, to die. As conscious human beings, we have the power to decide whether we act or do not act, whether we live or die. These are severe choices, but they serve to illustrate the importance of our ability to choose.
Our choices have real consequences. Man is more in his mind than the sum total of his experiences; human, we have an independent will. We have in us, each one of us individually, a distinct and separate will that grants us the power to create, to change the universe in our real image. It is in our identity in the universe that our definition as human beings is endowed with that creative ability. It is demanded of us the same as we demand our freedom to exercise our will. Our freedom to choose is an integral part of our human existence.
How we choose in the world is how we occupy our identity. We can either seek to better occupy our identity, in effect, become more
ourselves, or we can choose to become other than the self. In one, our will works to make us more conscious, more attuned to our
greater reality; in the other we drive our will with no regard for any greater reality beyond ourselves. One works with the universe and, consequently, has the universe working with it. The other isolates itself from the universe and its effect on the mind. In itself, this choice whether or not to ignore the universe and one's greater identity would not be of great consequence since it only affects the self and the erroneous choices would be corrected within that mind's greater reality. The damage becomes more apparent, however, and takes on greater importance when the mind, choosing to not be in agreement with its universe, drives its will into the reality of another. Identities clash, personalities come in conflict, and, if the aggressor is successful in his or her trespass, the victims are forced from their space-time position within reality, their greater identity. Trespassed, that mind is no longer free to be itself, disconnected from its definition within reality, outside its identity. Thus violated, wounded, its agony defines it in reality as a victim of an aggression; if the aggression persists, it is the victim of its identity's captivity resulting in a loss of personal freedom.
Our desire for freedom, our need for it, is a real phenomenon. We must be free to occupy our space in time. It is a freedom we demand individually and, when we are forced from it, we are forced from the definition at infinity that is our identity. Thus forced, we become filled with tension, we hurt psychically, become filled with unhappiness and we feel the need to come back into ourselves. This happens naturally, and to be pushed in the wrong direction, against our will, against our agreement, triggers in us the response to push back. This trespass can be corrected effortlessly and, in a civilized society, the aggressor realizes his or her trespass and apologizes or otherwise makes amends. Unfortunately, as we grow intellectually more sophisticated, we invent ways to legitimize this trespass. This too has happened naturally, but now we can choose. We do not have to accept a trespass.
Our history had been replete with the trespass against our will; it had been the nature of things. Chiefs demanded a communal allegiance within the tribe and punished any who disobeyed. Kings ruled their subjects as they willed and the subjects accepted this rule by personality. Only recently had government by law rather than rule by personality taken hold in our social consciousness and become responsible for the successes of modern times. These successes can be witnessed, if only generally, by the contrast between the social advancements and economic progressiveness within societies ruled predominantly by law, where an individual's rights are respected, as opposed to the backwardness of those still ruled by the cult of personality. Where the arbitrariness of will had been replaced by the, if still imperfect, impartiality of law, the trespasses under which the former subjects were forced to live increasingly vanished. Our more modern constitutional governments, when properly safeguarded by individuals, tend in their intent away from arbitrary force against the individual. Laws are our safeguard, in principle, against the arbitrariness of tyranny. However, today, to be pushed against our will, when it is not the result of a trespass by another individual, can be the result of a law that forces us to be other than ourselves. Laws can protect us from the trespass of another; they can protect our property, our rights as individuals, our lives, our agreements as expressed by contract. But can they protect us against themselves? Even if inadvertently, even without design, a law can be made such as to trespass against us, to force a body to be elsewhere and otherwise than it will, against its agreement, the mind to be other than itself. When the conflict or trespass was but an act of individual wills, the solution was simple: If not otherwise resolved, combat. Our history is a long trial by combat. However, when the trespass becomes one of ideology and social structures that seek to dominate the mind, the will, then the resolution becomes more complex. Combat exhausts itself and, even if inadvertent, the tyranny of the mind triumphs.
Thus, laws cannot always protect us as individuals. They cannot protect us if they are written such that they negate the value of our
individuality. If the basis for proper action is the benefit of the whole group rather than the benefit of any one individual, then the laws that guide that action are such that the right of the individual are subordinated to the right of the group. But the benefit of the group had always been favored historically, even if that group's welfare was embodied in the representation of one individual, i.e., the king. Only the image of the representation of the group has changed, not the underlying principle of social order. Whereas the social order of the group had been dominated by one ruler and his counselors, the new social order is dominated by a constitution of laws and their elected representatives. There is no harm in either system, save when either system strives to subordinate the right of the individual to the right of the group. Then, the individual ceases to be sheltered from trespass and falls victim to aggression. This aggression need not be intentional, it need not select anyone individual over another; it is merely an arbitrary trespass against individuals who wish to be themselves. So trespassed, the individual is forced from his or her reality by the very laws that were designed to protect them in their society.
Nothing need change. The benefit of the group can remain favored as it had historically. The laws that defined the social order and its government need not change; nor is there the need to change the social structure. It is actually in the interest of the group to become elevated within itself, as it desires. But the social group cannot elevate itself, in effect favor itself, if it does so at the expense of the individual. It need not subordinate the individual to the group and thus force it to be less than itself, as has happened in the philosophy of Communism. It is possible to establish a group that is defined by an assembly of free individuals, free before the law to be themselves, with no detriment to the society as a whole. We can now do that with our understanding of the mind in interrelationship with its presence in its identity. Our society can be made to be responsive to the demands of that new man, new woman, without subordinating them to the force of the group. They have conscious minds, they choose their actions, they have a will and an identity; they are individually their own force. It can be accomplished without changing the social structure. It is a very small step from where we are now to where our social order is run on the principle of universal order. It was only a small step from being unconscious to consciousness. It is now but an imperceptible step that takes us from being subjects of our social group to being subjects within a social structure subject to a greater universal order. It is so in our right to choose, our right to consciousness.
Unfree, we do not have the right to choose. We are unable to select whether we will occupy more closely our identity or whether we will force ourselves from it. The choice is often made for us, by the demands of the state of being of all the others, the group. Their claim is to self preservation and advancement; the individual's aim is to contribute. But if this contribution is other than how dictated by the group, the individual is considered to be the one in error and to be corrected. When the greatest legitimacy in our mind is the legitimacy of the group, it being the greatest materialization and representation of order, of intellect, of rationality, then it would appear justifiable that the individual who has strayed from the dictates of the group is in opposition to the greatest materialization of order. It is, as such, unjustifiable to be opposed to the group. If there are faults within the group and these faults cause conflict, then they can be, must be, resolved and there can be room for debate and improvements. But that is the trap: Once the social order has been perfected, argued complete and self justified, there can be no justifiable dissention. To dissent, under those conditions, is equivalent to denying the legitimacy of human intellect as supreme. It is to be unjustifiably rebellious, to be socially ungrateful or, worse, to be irrational or insane. In that closed world, there is no outside legitimacy to order; it is entirely self contained within the structure engineered by the mind. Thus, the right to choice becomes a false issue, since to refuse to choose along with the group, when fully legitimized in the public mind, becomes an irrational act. The system is self enclosed around the group allowing freedom within its structure. Freedom, then, is not a self defined, unalienable, right to be oneself. Instead, it is defined by the rules the individual must obey within his role in that social order.
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