2011 #3 - Aspects of Freedom
Freedom is an apparently simple concept, yet it has profound implications for all aspects of human life. In particular, it largely determines the social, economic and political structures of society. Over the last few months, the ‘Arab Spring’ has revealed that the desire for political freedoms that many in the West already take for granted is strong enough to topple long-established regimes. On the other hand, the riots in Britain have led at least some politicians to propose the curtailing of current freedoms. Both cases show, in different ways, that the level of freedom within a society can never be regarded as fixed, but should be seen as an evolving, dynamic process. With this in mind, World Goodwill will be exploring the theme of “Freedom and Spiritual Security” at our annual seminar in London, New York and Geneva on Saturday, October 29.
The articles in this issue all relate to the theme of freedom from different angles. In Freedom and World Citizenship, freedom is examined both in broad philosophical and spiritual terms, and also in relation to its very practical consequences for humanity. It is linked with the capacity for the individual to more fully express their indwelling soul. One of the main conclusions is that, for freedom to be fully enjoyed by any person, it must be available to everyone, and so all people of goodwill have the responsibility to seek to strengthen freedom wherever possible. And one of the ways in which this process of strengthening freedom may come about is through the practical sharing of planetary resources through international development aid, as discussed in Goodwill: the Spirit of Sharing. The connection between sharing through aid and expanding freedom is somewhat indirect, and not guaranteed – after all, corruption is an ever-present danger. But what is clear is that, without international sharing, the very pre-conditions for some economic freedoms, such as fundingfor health care or housing, may be seriously delayed.
Health care and adequate housing are sometimes described as entitlements, and are among the basic rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Different nation-states with different political systems have come up with widely varying interpretations of just how much the individual citizen is entitled to. Entitlement seeks to put this debate within the context of the famous Four Freedoms articulated by Franklin Roosevelt. And one area where many nation-states could improve is in the ways in which they deal with minorities whose culture differs from the culture of the majority. Historically, such minorities have tended to find that their rights and freedoms are more limited than those of the majority. The article on Cultural Sensitives proposes a new type of vocation which could help to ensure that minorities are fairly dealt with – particularly important in a time where cultures are intermingling more and more.
According to Alice Bailey, “The principle of freedom is a leavening energy which can permeate substance in a unique manner;... This principle of freedom is one of the attributes of Deity (like will, love and mind) of which humanity knows as yet little.The freedom for which men fight is one of the lowest aspects of this cosmic freedom, which is related to certain great evolutionary developments that enable the life or spirit aspect to free itself from the impact, the contact and the influence of substance.” (Alice Bailey, A Treatise on the Seven Rays Vol.V p.416). It is perhaps because the principle of freedom is a largely uncharted mystery that we do not yet have a clear picture of a society within which each and every member is truly free. At our Seminar this year on “Freedom and Spiritual Security”, we hope to explore this mystery together with our invited speakers, and you are warmly invited to join us.
The concept of freedom is currently at the forefront of thought in connection with the rising of the peoples in the Arab world in search of the freedoms that other nations enjoy.
In the writings of Alice Bailey, it is said that the great spiritual achievement and evolutionary event of our age will be the communion and human relationships established among all peoples, enabling people everywhere to sit down together in the Presence of the Christ and share the bread and wine (symbols of nourishment).
The question of entitlement is much in the public mind today. In principle, an entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits because of inherent rights or by law. Entitlements are the benefits which a society guarantees to everyone who meets established conditions of need. They are intended to promote social equality and to protect those who would otherwise be vulnerable.
“Multiculturalism” is a term which has been in the news recently, as a number of politicians, including the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, have expressed doubts about its success within their countries.