Monday, March 18, 2013

When a Free Mind is a Necessity

You're at a party.  You're in High School and you are, by definition, incredibly socially insecure.  If you are boy, you want the approval of the most popular and powerful boys. You want to show that you are a man and sexually sophisticated beyond your actual experience   If you are a girl, you don't want to  seem like an innocent or out of reach.  So, in the mix of drinking, flirting, dancing and making out, it becomes clear that some of the popular athletes are doing stuff with a girl who is drunk, out of control and who has clearly made some bad decisions.  What do you do?

Every one of us will be end up in a similar situation someday.  Most of us have already been there.  A situation when the group is going in the wrong direction, and you know it.  What do you do?

It is a moment when your level of self-possession matters.  Can you get your mind free enough from the  human hard-wired instinct to conform to the group to do what is right?  To say "stop" when the group is going the wrong way will put you in danger.  At the very least, you will be in danger of being ostracized and ridiculed by the group.  At the worst, you become the target of the group's violence and anger.

Our religious path, that of Liberal Religion and Unitarian Universalism, says that the most important spiritual strength that you must develop is self-possession.  Self-possession is the ability to think for yourself, to keep your mind free from the compulsion to go along to get along, to hold true to what you know is right and wrong.

William Ellery Channing:  "I call that mind free which has cast off all fear, but that of wrongdoing, and which no menace or peril can enthrall: which is calm in the midst of tumults, and possesses itself, thought all else be lost..."

William Ellery Channing.
Check out #592 in Singing the Living Tradition

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