The Last Of The Human Freedoms

Choosing your response to what happens in life is your greatest freedom. Learn more in this video.

Full Video Transcript (transcript by Victoria Barkley)

We all have the freedom to choose our response…it’s our greatest freedom. Ideally, we choose to respond from that divinity, that God Self, the Christ within us. We live centered in it, and we respond from it. That’s the ideal. That’s what the sages and masters worked from. Jesus the Christ lived from that place. He was always centered in God and He chose to respond from that place. When He was on the cross, being crucified…what did he do? He didn’t say: “Is this the thanks I get?” No, of course not…He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He was so centered in love that he could choose His response.

And you and I can do the same, no matter what happens around us or to us. But in order to do it in the big things, we have to exercise our freedom in the small things…in the small things.

It’s probably the hardest with our loved ones. It’s probably the hardest with the people you know the best. And the reason is because there is a habitual reaction—there is an accepted behavior, perhaps. You know, you grew up with that person. You grew up with them talking a certain way. You grew up with some standards of behavior that were acceptable. You grew up modeling and learning from your models of what’s okay to do in a relationship.

And I say, you don’t have to be that way just because you were exposed to it. You don’t have to live that way because that’s been acceptable in your family. You can choose a different reaction. You can choose to respond with respect and love and compassion and empathy with the people you’re closest to.

They do not need to push our buttons. Yes, there will be a reaction, because it’s conditioned. But you and I have the freedom to choose a different response.

You can say, “Look, I’m not going to do this anymore. I am not going to behave this way, in this family anymore. I am going to choose my response.” And you know what happens? I’ve found this myself—I start requiring other people in my family to also choose their response. Or, you can’t make someone over, but it they are going to speak disrespectfully to me, I won’t have it. I’ll say, “You’re speaking disrespectfully and we’ll talk another time.” You know, the change begins with you and me.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Victor Frankel, who wrote the classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, was in a concentration camp, a Nazi concentration camp. He was naked and alone in a room. His family, his parents were murdered—his wife and children were murdered by the Nazis. And here he is, naked and alone in a room. And he discovered something that changed his life and the lives of millions of people, and it was this thought: “You can take away my parents and my children. You can take away my wife and the wedding ring off of my finger. But there’s one thing that you can never, ever take away from me, and that’s what I think about what you have done.”

Dr. Victor Frankel later called that the last of the human freedoms. Everything can be taken away, except what you think about it—Choosing your response.

This 4th of July, let us not only celebrate the freedom of our country. Let us celebrate our greatest freedom, our ability to choose our response.

The late, great statesman and former prime minister of England, Benjamin Disraeli said, “Man are not the creatures of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men.”

God bless you…