The Nature of True Freedom III: Creating A Shared Image of the Future
Beyond the Babylonian myths, we can look to Judaic and Christian theology for other examples of external control—but also for examples of integration. I have written about “Grace” in previous essays and propose that it offers an image of integration. There is one form of Grace that resides in external control. This is the Grace to be found in Essence-optimism—it is granted by God (in traditional Christian theology). Conversely, there is a form of Grace that resides in an internal realm of control. This is the Grace to be found in the I/Thou relationship established on earth that was identified by the Jewish theologian, Martin Buber (1958). This is also the Grace to be found in the history of human caring and forgiveness identified by the Christian theologian, Paul Tillich (1948). These forms of Grace are not totally beholding to God’s benevolence. These are forms of Grace based in Polak’s Influence-optimism.
Grace that resides in the domain of Influence-optimism and is informed by an internal locus of control is forged on an anvil I have described in previous essays. Grace is forced on an anvil of shared commitment to higher purposes (a harmony of interest). It is an anvil of balanced individual rights and collective responsibility. Influence-based optimism and a sustained internal locus of control require recognition and reconciliation of all aspects of past human history. It is a Grace of I-Thou that allows for and is enabled by the forgiveness that comes not from God, but from neighbors (from all over the world) who we have wronged. It is a grace that allows us, finally, to even forgive ourselves (Bergquist and Pomerantz, 2020).
Discernment and the Future
How do we find (or construct) this anvil of Grace? Polak (1973, p. 20) offers some suggestions: “The future works upon the present only to the extent that the present can receive the challenging images it broadcasts. Man has to be tuned in to the right wave-length.” In medieval times, this tuning to the right wavelength was called “discernment.” The mystics were to learn how to discern which messages they were receiving came from God and which came from Satan. Both God and Satan had control of very powerful modes of communication–as they still do today via social media, the Internet and polarized cable networks. Discernment was thus necessary if the mystics were to be agents of God or agents of Satan.