You do not know it, but you are a slave. You are not enslaved by a central authority, but by the Crowd. Their opinions determine what you can say; their product-buying choices determine what’s on the market; their government preferences create a “window” of acceptable ideas and anything else is excluded. This is tyranny by the Crowd…(From "Upward Exit," mild language alert)
Jonathan Peter Wilkinson
"JPW works as an Operations Research Analyst. This line of work has trained him to view the world in a systemic fashion. In solving the System Identification Problem of modern society, he discovered that the system was not truly designed to make us happier or more successful. Secondly, an unflinching evaluation of the ongoing outputs of the current system show its marked decline in quality and success."
And this by Roger Simon:
As far back as 1979, Christopher Lasch published a now famous book The Culture of Narcissism that described the American behavioral patterns as largely narcissistic. According to Lasch, our family structure had produced a personality type consistent with “pathological narcissism.” We were constantly seeking attention from the outside world, making us a nation of insecure weaklings forever in search of validation to tell us we were alive, to give us a raison d’être.(From "Moral Narcissism and the Least-Great Generation")
But none of this, not The Crowd nor the "attention of the outside world" can bring us happiness or meaning and purpose in life. Happiness is a false goal, anyway. As Buddha is supposed to have said, "There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path."
And modern psychologists agree with the saying attributed to Lao Tzu, "If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."
Compare to Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 25:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ... And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? ... Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Jesus proclaimed that he brought freedom. And so he did, but not the freedom to do anything we want. The freedom he gives is freedom from the chains that bind us from seeking holiness: sin, The Crowd, the seeking of approval from the world.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
Christian writer Owen Strachan pout it this way: "Whatever else Christian freedom means, it fundamentally means that we are free to be holy. There is no barrier to godliness. We have all we need for it through the Word and the Spirit (2 Peter 1:3)."
Freedom is also a choice. But Christian freedom is not merely about making choices, it is focused on making the right choices. Choosing rightly is more important than merely having the ability to choose at all. As colleague of mine emailed me this morning, when each day begins he knows that,
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice.And that rest will be easy.
Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite Him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control. I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful-ness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.