Articles From the August 1995 Unification News
On Being Human
by Frank LaGrotteria-NYC
To be human means that we have the image of God indelibly etched upon our human person. Human life has certain "given" elements to it. We are born, we do not choose to be born. We have a heart and a mind. Our heart and mind are endowed with the ability to reason and feel. We are given the opportunity to be a husband or a wife, we are all children and we can be either brothers or sisters. We are also free.
Animals and plants do not have freedom, they simply exist according to the laws of nature. They act the same way every time. We can predict their actions perfectly. They may "feel" in the rawest sense of it, but not feeling the way humans consciously do.
We have this given, we have mind and body, we have heart and brain. We have coordination and we have dexterity and creativity. This is like the given. We are male or female. This is given as well. We feel things deeply, sometimes that makes us really happy and sometimes that makes us really sad. Sometimes we curse the fact that we have such strong desires and emotions because it sometimes leads us where we do not want to go. Then sometimes we are so happy we could shout and bless the day we were born.
What I am getting at is that we have to understand the "given" in life. We have to separate that which we have no control over and that which is under our own dominion. It's like being of a certain sex. You can't change the fact that you are a man or woman. It is given to you. What you need to do in any of these cases is get in sync with the natural flow of things. Don't fight against the given. It's like freedom and responsibility. There really is no freedom with out responsibility. How can I say that. I can say that because when a person uses freedom without responsibility they run the risk of inverting the value of freedom. For example, I can say that I am free to jump off a cliff, but as soon as I reach the bottom, my freedom will mean nothing at all because I will be dead. It is the same with drugs and alcohol and cigarettes. When I think I am free to do anything I want, I am missing the point of freedom. Freedom is related with the "given" in life. We are free inasmuch as we properly relate with the "givens."
Take the example of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, if we misuse the body by putting poison in it, it will die. The natural law, the given, is that our body cannot handle poison. We have to adjust ourselves in such a way as to do things which will not harm our bodies. Our freedom is not freedom without acting responsibly. We are free to do all kinds of things with our body and eat good food and other nice things, but not to ingest poison. We are not free to ingest poison, we are free within the limits of the given. We need to study the given and then "respond" to the given.
For example we are either men or women. Some people wish they were not the sex they were given. They do very strange things like having plastic surgery or dressing and speaking funny. Why do people do that? They do that because they are not settled about the given in life. We have to understand that we cannot change the given. We simply cannot. We are who we are as a matter of fact. We need to get settled about it and get on with the business of making much of our lives.
It is like that with our sex, it is also like that with freedom and responsibility. As soon as we violate the given (no freedom without responsibility), we loose our freedom. To be truly free we need to remain within the bounds of the given. When we do that we are free and we have a clear conscience. Life gets better and better, not worse and worse.
We see that God has placed us on this earth and endowed us with certain qualities and certain parameters. We need to study well the boundaries of our life and keep well within them and at the same time use and utilize all those gifts for the greatest benefit.
For example we were created to be in relationship, humans from the time of our infancy must be in relationship or we will die. We were created to be in relationship. That is an example of the given, relationship. But what is left to us is the quality of relationship. What we do in relationship will determine the quality, there is no guarantee that we will have good relationships, only that we be in them. Another given is that we have the ability to feel deeply and act passionately etc. We can make our relationships great, we can have happiness and peace and joy in relationship, but it is clearly up to us, not a given. Do you see that relationship between the two? The given is that we will be in relationships our whole life, and the part that is in our hands is the quality and direction of those relationships.
Think about sex. When people have sex with all kinds of partners, the emotional value of the experience is weakened and damaged. When on the other hand we marry and remain faithful, we can have great sex and still maintain the emotional value. The sexual part will bind us more deeply to each other and when children come we will love them as part of our love for each other. The opposite is that we wind up with no concern for anything but the momentary pleasure of the situation which will soon wear out and become hollow and unfulfilling. Under the casual sex approach we will never find satisfaction and always seek more and more never getting enough. Why? Because one of the givens in life is that sex is meant for marriage (all religions and all societies teach this). When we violate this we end up loosing the freedom to have sex, we end up enslaved to our physical desire for more and unable to be completed in the original form of God's creation.
Here is the same principle applied again and again. We have to be sure we understand the universal or the given, then we can apply our freedom. Freedom should not be seen as a license to do anything we want to do, but a gift which completes the given, a gift which makes all the good things come to life. It's God's way of including us in the process of creation.
In my heart of hearts I want share this particular point with you my dear friend. If you understand these things you will grow quickly and not get needlessly hung up on issues that were already settled. The key word is respond, we need to respond and respond, we are the objects of God, we are His children, we have to respond to what He has given, we cannot be God, we are not the Creator, we are the created, even in the family we are the joyful instruments of the universal power which acts through us to create life. But we cannot deny that we are still only the instruments the vehicle or conduit we are not the power itself. We need to recognize and accept and then enjoy our wonderful position in the cosmos.
God has made us this way, we are in his image and likeness, that is why we do not simply act like plants and animals, we are given freedom and responsibility which animals and plants do not have. We have to know how to operate within that realm. So don't complain when because of strong physical desire, like for sex, we are tempted to do the wrong things (or tormented). Instead understand the proper place for sex in the universal order of things. Understand it and then operate within its boundaries and it will come to bring great rewards. Betray its proper place and it will hurt you and those around you.
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