There is a principle in life, “If you are not whole without something, you will never be whole with it.” Modern psychology will not teach restraint to gain freedom. It will often try to encourage a person to continue to do self-harm through their lifestyle while at the same time trying to find inner peace through the same lifestyle causing inner turmoil. Yet, natural law and common sense declare if what you are currently doing is causing you distress, stop what you are presently doing first.
Several times in my life, I have had the pleasure of working with people who have been in this crisis. All of these people are good people; I make no judgments about their lifestyle choices, moral codes, or desires. Simply making observations as compared to the principle under discussion.
Person 1, male, arrives onboard the USS Barry, an American Aegis Destroyer about the same time as I. Works as a cook. A hard-working person expresses his innermost desire is to obtain a tattoo. It has always been his dream to have a single tattoo. He thinks it will make him tough. Upon return to America, he gets a tattoo, then another, and then several more. He gets off on the pain, but with every tattoo, his soul becomes more and more distressed and anguished, and he begins to hate his appearance simultaneously and desires more tattoos. Because he was never a complete person mentally, he will never be complete with a tattoo without a tattoo. He does not understand why something which gives him pleasure through pain is also causing him more mental and spiritual anguish.
Person 2, female, sailor from the USS Barry, born and raised in a Christian home, always harbored doubts about religion but never voiced them. She always considered religion to be a restraint on freedom. She joins the US Navy, cuts ties to the religion of her youth, and claims she has never been freer. Her promiscuity is the stories of legends told in the engine rooms and back passageways of the ship. Her friends on board are scared she will crash and burn on some port visit and find a dead body where their friend used to be. This sailor thought sex would be the ultimate expression of freedom. Instead, it became the chains of her demise mentally, physically, and spiritually. When I met her, very little remained of the modest and good person she had been as she was growing up; by the time I left the ship, she was unrecognizable.
Two very good people, quick to help, hard-working, people of different backgrounds, but essentially the same. They discovered the same truth through two very different means, and the truth had nearly broken them when I left the ship. I grieve for my colleagues and their friends. By not knowing who they were and understanding their potential, the added freedoms and responsibilities of becoming adults were not the freedoms they expected but chains by which they bound themselves to paths of pain and destruction.
A paradox is anything that initially appears to be two opposing forces, but when studied, they are not opposites but are closer related than opposites. For example, one of the principles in understanding oneself and enjoying freedom is accepting restraints. Case in point, using person 2, had she exercised the modesty discussed in the religion of her youth, she would have found that sexual relations are improved with restraint, not ruined with discretion. Lies spread in society since the 1960s have claimed that sex is free, has no consequences, and can be engaged in without concern. All of these are absurd lies leading to the destruction of everyone who listens and becomes engrossed in the lifestyle of free sex. Hence, sexual restraint is a paradox; practicing restraint in sexual relations improves sexual relations, not hinders them, a contradiction, and freedom is found in restraint.
Person 3 has been observed the longest and is a family member, one of my younger brothers, to be precise. He has lived his life in a manner that has seen him restrained by external forces because he refuses internal restraint—losing good companions as wives, relationships with children, friends, and colleagues along the way. All of which has been difficult to witness, but the real tragedy has been the hero-worship heaped upon my younger brother by other more youthful siblings, leading them into dangerous and difficult paths. Hence, you could call Person 3 an amalgamate of four of my younger siblings, all of whom have chosen paths of appetite fulfillment instead of appetite suppressant.
By choosing to engage in appetite fulfillment, each of them has chased his one preferred appetite, to the exclusion of other all else, usually to the detriment of spousal relationships, children relationships, familial bonds, and responsibilities to society and themselves. Worse, the shell of these people forms a prickly wall around genuinely good people, who, if they would choose to learn, could be taught appetite suppression.
Training is Contingent Upon Choosing to Learn
One of the most difficult lessons I have learned is that those who choose to learn will, and those who choose to refuse to learn will as well. Nothing a teacher can do will change a student’s mind once it is made to refuse to learn. Unfortunately, this means that the teacher will witness a lot of struggles in the student, watch the student experience consequences, and be harmed physically and mentally from the choices made to refuse to learn.
Believe it or not, appetite control is a choice and begins with a desire to learn. The paradox in training is that when the desire to learn is stronger than the appetite to remain ignorant, the learner will produce the effort to change through learning. This is why appetite control is such a critical and fundamental topic for understanding. Desire is appetite, an appetite is a tool for good or ill, and bridling an appetite is every person’s job if they choose self-mastery as a means of self-regulation and self-improvement. When we choose self-mastery, we choose to become free!
Freedom is a paradox of bridled appetites to the greater realization that through suppressed appetite and controlled desires, a person can enjoy more, not less. Can learn and experience more, have more, become more, and realize more potential. Long have I been fascinated with racehorses, and the story of Black Beauty is one of my all-time favorites.
How are the best racehorses made? Sure, breeding helps. But, training is as, if not more, crucial. A good animal does not become a great animal until they are placed into the hands of a good trainer who puts restraints upon the animal. A bridle, a harness, a saddle, wrap their legs to protect against ligament strain, shoes on their feet, and much more. Then over time, the animal learns that the restraints, which at first were chafing and fought against, become the tools by which the horse achieves greatness. The same is true for humans, every human, and those who, throw the restraints, never achieve freedom, never achieve excellence, and refuse their potential for momentary happiness, all because of appetite.
Living in a representative government, the citizenry needs to understand this lesson and monitor those elected for people who refuse restraint. Those who refuse restraint will gather everyone who chooses to take a lazy route to their side, and in doing so, will ruin the representative government and destroy liberty for all. The debt so many representative governments face right now, which has reached critical mass stages, is due to unbridled appetite and appetite fulfillment for the masses when the government needed appetite restraint instead. The world’s problems in Afghanistan where rampant appetite fulfillment for the masses when appetite restraint was required. Terrorism is nothing but an unbridled appetite mixed with modern weapons and a desire to watch the world burn, more unbridled appetites.
Do we understand that only through restraining our appetites can we personally enjoy freedom? Do we teach appetite restraint to our children, knowing that when they control themselves, they can enjoy freedom, and help them to understand why appetite restraint is a good thing? Do we exemplify appetite restraint in society in speech, clothes, manners and encourage others to do similarly? If not, why?
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.