Is the human being free?

The text in italics was taken from Lettres Ouvertes (Open Letters), correspondence between an atheist and a believer, Jean-Guy Saint-Arnaud and Cyrille Barrette, published in MédiaPaul Editions)


(...)The question of liberty is immense. We sing of liberty. We fight for it when it is scorned and rejected by totalitarian regimes. (Everything that is not forbidden is obligatory!) or threatened by unjust laws and by the blind pressure of the crowd.

Spontaneously, all human search to be free and claim liberty as the most precious right, the right to thought and opinion, free speech and word, or association.That is what was stated in 1948 by the Organization of United Nations in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

''All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” [Article1]

People who respect themselves must promote liberty, equality and fraternity for each of its citizens, and to seek, between countries, the free trade and free movement of goods.

Is the human being free, yes or no?  The obvious response is:  yes and no.  The child at its birth is not free. The child will have to free himself throughout his life, his history, his maturation; that is to say, he will have to discover and invent his autonomy.  To take into account the growth of the human being, it would be more just to speak here of liberation (as a process), rather than liberty. (…)

In order to assure the passage from childhood to maturity, the role of the parents is to bring the child, who is essentially led by another, to lead himself, to pass from a way of functioning that amounts to complaisance or conformism to one of functioning from conviction. The progressive access to liberty, we must note, does not abolish law, nor the numerous determinisms which continue to rule our lives, but it permits us to disengage from them and to surpass them, up to a certain point, integrating them and coming to terms with them.  It is through the emergence and growth of our liberty that we come to the marvelous conquest of our profound identity (…).
Our conscience, at the beginning, appears as a kind of screen, matrix, nest, where the most valuable gift that life can give the human person can hatch:  liberty, with all that that involves, intelligence, love, capacity to judge, discern and the courage to decide and respond with one’s own actions.  (…)
We have to go farther and recognize that the secret of liberty essentially resides in a great love, a great passion, which relativizes without abolishing, all other human loves.  It is the affective range which procures for liberty its own space, in growing, (…) and in stretching the soul.  Liberty shows that we are made for what is greatest.  It defines itself as a quality of love which does not constrain, that nothing blocks or stops.  Only a great passion for love (that is the love of God, science, arts, persons) enables at the limit, with the indispensable help of the intelligence (to avoid drifting), to make all the rest radically relative. (…)
Freedom is in many ways at the heart of Christian life and, first of all in Jesus Christ, the free man par excellence.  Even those who do not believe in him, often because of Christians or Churches who disfigure him, recognize the unique quality of his freedom, in his way of being, in his milieu, in the face of death and in his relationship with God.

                                                                Jean-Guy St. Arnaud

The secret of his liberty is found in sovereign love, made of unconditional trust and total surrender to a relationship with his Father.