Tuesday, January 5, 2010


During a Sunday-school, the teacher asked the students, “What is the first commandment mentioned in the Bible?” One smart boy answered, “Eat it.” The confused teacher asked him, “Where do you find it?” The boy replied, “In the Book of Genesis. It was Eve’s order to Adam after she found the forbidden fruit!”
A rich snob planned a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. He met the Vicar and discussed his plans. He said, “My greatest ambition is to reach the top of Mount Sinai. Standing there, I will proclaim aloud the ‘Ten Commandments of God’ to the whole world with all my energy.” The Vicar advised him, “In my opinion it would be much more rewarding if you could practice the commandments at home and your office instead of shouting from the mount.”
An admirer of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once told the poet that if children are given absolute freedom to take decisions, their personality would grow to full potential. The poet showed the visitor his garden. “Is it a garden? I would call it a forest”, remarked the guest on seeing the weeds covering the garden. Coleridge replied, “It was my beautiful rose garden. I thought I should give the plants full freedom to grow up naturally. What you see is the result of that freedom!
Tom and Jerry were close friends studying in an Indian school. They learned in their class about the history of the struggle for Indian independence. They were talking about freedom and walking along a busy road to the school. Jerry said, “Ours is a free nation and we have the freedom to walk along the centre of the road. But Tom was more cautious. He told Jerry about the rule of the road taught in their earlier class. Pedestrians were advised to walk along the right side of the road and the vehicles had to keep the left side while driving. That would let a pedestrian clearly see the vehicles coming towards him. The vehicles coming from behind him would go by the other side of the road, at a safe distance.
But Jerry was adamant. He told Tom, “Don’t forget that we are free citizens of independent India. We can walk as we please.” Disregarding Tom’s warning, he walked through the centre of the road. As he reached a sharp curve, a speeding car coming from behind him turned at great speed and hit Jerry before it could stop. He fell down and his books were scattered along the road. His left hand was injured. He was rushed to the hospital. Tom stayed with him in the hospital, helping Jerry. Jerry told Tom, “Now I realize the truth of your words. Freedom has its limits.”
Freedom is not the right to do as we please, but the liberty to do what we ought to do. Rules are framed to make our freedom full and fair. Voluntary sacrifice of personal rights is the basis of peaceful social life. There is no liberty without limitations; no freedom without responsibility. Commandments of God and the laws of our Nation do not curtail our freedom; they make our liberty a reality. Cicero said, “We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free.”
St. Peter advises, “Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves” {1 Peter 2: 16}.
St. Paul warns us, “Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin” {1 Corinthians 8: 9}. “As for you, my brothers, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another” {Galatians 5: 13].

© By Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

This is Story No. 176 in this site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in this site. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

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