We each have the ability to see, to evaluate and understand things for ourselves. Yet, all too often we allow the judgments and agendas of others to take us in. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be manipulated, accepting what is said without investigation – because something supports our preconceived assumptions.
The dishonesty and deceit of partisan politics runs rampant. Mass media is particularly insidious, creating various alternative realities and imposing them on us in an incoherent stream of disconnected images and sound bites. Social media is worse.
We can never fully comprehend the reality in which we live, physically or spiritually. But, we can see that the world survives repeated cataclysms, ever recovering its balance and somehow progressing despite the delusions, duplicity, and chicanery of human beings.
In the previous post I proposed a way of seeing and understanding the world on the basis of justice. I wrote of a dependable, self-sustaining framework or foundation underlying the whole of reality, which has the character of justice.
We would do well to align ourselves with this basis, to unite with its’ standards and observe its’ conditions as best we can.
Religious people may recognize this truth as the function of God’s Grace. Others might see it as a function of the integrity of the natural order in the universe. I believe both are true.
A balanced and coherent unity can be recognized in both the human and natural worlds, when they are freed from manipulation. The elegant balance found in nature will, if left alone, always manage itself with a delicate, yet robust and resilient functionality.
Human society has a similarly purposeful balance. But, this is often distorted by insistent efforts to control things according to our selfish desires, rather than with any sense of the right order of things.
Religion has taught us of the integrity and interdependence of the relationships that form the fabric of human communities. Science has shown us that the earth’s biosphere is a delicate web of life organized as an integrated network of networks.
Whether in human affairs or in the natural world, any disruption or injury inflicted upon the balance will incur consequences that may not be immediately apparent. Yet the repercussions of injury and injustice spread rapidly abroad, as each impact leads to others in widening circles that extend themselves in perpetuity.
Why is this important to our understanding of freedom? Understanding the fundamental form and function of things allows us to see things for ourselves without undue influence from others.
While dialog with a trusted friend or genuine consultation within a group can be important safeguards, the personal ability to recognize the consequences of events for ourselves, “to see the end in the beginning,” allows us to determine our own course of action without responding to pressure.
And, understanding the far-flung aftereffects of our own deeds provides us with a degree of protection from engaging in overly emotional, ill-conceived, or destructive acts.
A cursory review of human history reveals numerous examples of poorly conceived actions followed by disastrous consequences. As we have all seen, both individuals and groups are quite capable of seriously misguided error.
How does this happen? Well, sometimes we think we have everything all figured out when, in fact, our information is limited and we are only aware of a part of the “truth.”
It is essential that we include a diversity of experience and perspective in our consultations with others. And, we must always step back periodically to find the mental space to think objectively for ourselves.
Remaining mindful of the foundation of justice that is given, and always checking and rechecking our own motives, will pay ever greater dividends in constructive outcomes and the avoidance of unnecessary trouble.
Justice is a gift that will not go away. To ignore or repudiate it is fruitless.
However destructive the consequences of unjust acts may be, justice remains integral to the substance of reality, unperturbed and uncompromised. It remains with us at all times, however discouraged or confused we might feel.
We can count on this, even in the darkest night.
Next week: Liberty with integrity
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