One of the things I really love is to have a more zoomed-out look at our culture, to see what we can learn – and change – about our cultural myths, since it is these myths that underlie all our other decisions.

On this, I want to re-post a comment from facebook, which I made a few months ago. It was after watching a wonderful filmatization of the musical version of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”. This is the classic story where an old greedy geezer, Ebenezer Scrooge, gets a flash of self-awareness, when he on Christmas eve is visited by the three ghosts: of Christmases past, of Christmases present, and of Christmases yet to be. What makes this, and so many other similar stories so engaging is the stark contrasts, and the evoluation of character. It is because everything is so dark in Scrooge’s life, and in his heart, that the opening of his heart is so beautiful. It is because he sees life as he had forgotten how to, that the re-awakening into caring again is such a strong experience. It is a bit like Martin Luther King said, in his last speech (called “I’ve been to the Mountain Top“): “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” Or another classical attitude is this: condemn not evil, but be a light unto it.


In this picture, to the left we see a young and still vibrant Scrooge dancing with his
sweetheart Emily (Jennifer Love Hewitt) on the night when they got engaged. To the right we see
old geezer Scrooge (Kelsey Grammer, aka Fraiser) reliving the memory, through the graze of the “Ghost
of Christmas past”, who stands behind. This is the scene where old
Ebenezer’s heart starts responding to things again – a truly wonderful
scene!

However, the scene I really wanted to show you is the following:
This is a little bit later in to the same movie, when Emily is breaking up the engagement. She says that he only loves his gold. He says that he is collecting all the money to keep them both safe and secure. She replies
that she never wanted anything but his love.

This
misunderstanding says something very profound about the most common
mistake there is – and which is very much affecting our world
also today. An unsoundly cautious search for safety and security will
almost always lead you astray, and away from love and freedom. We see it
in all the recent surveilance laws that are poisoning our democracy so
much these days: they are very often argued for in terms of “increased
security”. Base a decision on fear, and the search for security, and it
will almost always lead you wrong. Base a decision on the search for
freedom, *true freedom*, and it will almost always lead you right.

This particular trend we are seeing right now is of course not new. My
favority quote on the topic is probably by Ben Frankling, the ingenious
founding father of the US declaration of independence: “Those who would
give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve
neither Liberty nor Safety [and will lose both]”