We have been considering freedom not as a political right, but as a metaphysical condition proper to the very structure of the human being. We are considering it as a state of openness to truth and to love. And we are considering it as a capacity to dedicate ourselves to truth and love.
Not long ago I read a novel called The Bay of Angels, by Anita Brookner. When the story begins, the protagonist is a girl in her early teens; the novel takes the reader through the experiences by which she grows into womanhood. A key moment in her maturing process occurs when she falls in love with a young man who proved to be unfaithful to her. At times he seemed to love her, but finally she can no longer deny his infidelity and she comes to the realisation that ‘his liberty mattered more to him than whatever affection he might have felt’ for her [emphasis mine].
It is very easy to be like the young man in that novel, and to absorb from our culture the teaching that in order to be true to myself I must be free, and freedom means keeping myself in a state within which my options – with regard to relationships, or anything else that ordinarily leads to commitment – are as open as possible. But what kind of freedom is that? It is a freedom which precludes the possibility of really loving another.