Which road to follow? NAIB.
Freedom, in this life, involves responsibility. So then, how do we carry our freedom responsibly? The individualist ethic would have us exercise our freedom in a way that exclusively relates to our own interests. And why shouldn’t we use our freedom to do just that? The paradox of our freedom is that it can be absolute – who or what is to stop us pursuing what we want to pursue and in the way we want to pursue it? Follow such a path to the end, however, and we find not fulfilment, but misery. We can get so caught up in the idea of living our own life by our own rules that we lose touch with the fact that there are truths about human nature and human existence that apply to us all.
Chief among these truths is the fact that the human person is born with a longing for happiness. We can perhaps argue that when we use our freedom to serve our own interests we are only seeking happiness. But here we step into another paradox. Happiness is realised only in reference to that which is greater than our self and our own desires. Growth in love of God and of our neighbour – this is the path to true happiness. Our freedom must be formed by such a goal. If we seek freedom for its own sake, using it only to pursue our own desires then happiness eludes us. We are not meant to hold on to freedom jealously and make it the object of our life’s quest. Freedom is not our greatest endowment. Freedom concerns not so much what we are set free from, but what we are set free for. We are set free for love – for sacrificial love. Only then will freedom bring us the true happiness we seek.