If I did not believe in God I think I would be bound in conscience to become an anarchist. Yet, if I did not believe in God, I wonder if I could have the consolation of being bound in conscience to do anything.
Conscience is the soul of freedom, it eyes, its energy, its life. Without conscience, freedom never knows what to do with itself. And a rational being who does not know what to do with [their self] finds the tedium of life unbearable. [They are] literally bored to death.
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, “Conscience, Freedom, and Prayer”
I’ve been stuck Trying to find my voice To hear it in the clamor of the others Droning on about scandalous politics Whining about the downfall of society What people stoop to to pick up a buck A pile of which will make them free Free from something I don’t know what Not free from puzzling out How to spend the next minute
I’ve been stuck not wanting to say all that Or just that Because there is more to say I know there is If I can just listen for that voice Still and small Telling me to speak and act Freely and truly
I don’t know enough about brain chemistry to say anything much about it. But I understand that we can easily become like trapped rats poking whatever button we can find that results in a little dopamine poof. And then another. And then another, bigger poof. Each poof producing in our brains what we associate with pleasure. Followed by a lack of pleasure. Followed by looking for that button again. And, can we poke it a little harder and get a little bigger poof this time?
I have been that trapped rat. I have family members who were those trapped rats who I hope and pray found mercy and relief when they left the earth that had become to them a maze with no way out and all the buttons no longer sufficient.
We have thriving industries that depend on our false selves making the choices for us. Until we no longer have any power to choose anything but what we have become addicted to, perfect consumers.
God in heaven, be merciful to us, guide us to our true selves, to choices that don’t go poof.
Jesus, you came that we might have joy, abundantly, not dependent on dopamine and the pleasure pulses it gives. Inclusive of pleasure, yes; thank you. Requiring pleasure, no; thank you. Joy no one can take from us, not ‘like the world gives’. Thank you.