The Tyranny of Freedom and the Freedom of Discipline

I wish I could take credit for the title of today’ post, but I can’t.  This was the title of a talk given by the Dean of Students when I was a Freshman in College.  Here we were, a bunch of Freshman in College bursting at the seems to be free of our parents, free of the constraints of High School and free to party hardy, just waiting to dive into every experience that our new found freedom could possibly give us!  And then he gives us a talk about the tyranny of freedom and the freedom of discipline.  Even if I forgot the truth of what he spoke over various times in my life, I never forgot the title – and it’s truth comes back to me again and again.

Discipline is not a dirty word.  And complete freedom, with no boundaries, can lead to tyranny and lots of unfocused, dispersed energy running all over the place!  Look at the children of parents who give them free reign.  Look at society and the world when the common good is displaced for the comfort and convenience of a few.  Look within.

Discipline is that which leads us to freedom.  Look at any musician, athlete, artist, writer, parent, therapist or business person.  Look at anyone who is good at what they do and chances are, behind all of that we will see hours and hours, days, weeks and years of practice honing their craft which lead them to the freedom of expression they now enjoy and from which others benefit.  If I am not disciplined in body, mind and spirit, my energy is dispersed and my living unfocused.  When I am disciplined in body, mind and spirit – this investment of time leads to a stream of physical and spiritual energy that is focused and a love that is outreaching.

Of course discipline can become a tyranny if it is not balanced with the freedom of relaxation and play.  All work, no play makes us dull people indeed!  But if we’re all play and little work, we will also find our energies dissipated and our body/spirits lifeless.  Get the spiritual and physical endorphins going with a little discipline today!

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