“God created us to be free, and to act responsibly with our freedom.”
~Henry Cloud, Ph.D.
Just why do people act in ways that demonstrate a lack of love for one another? Some avoid it in their selfishness, or choose to be selfish in the moment, whilst others don’t appear to be ‘free’ to love. These problems exist for all of us to varying and wide-ranging extents.
According to Dr. Cloud, freedom (which is authority) and responsibility go hand in hand; the balance of which promotes maturity and hence loving action.
Balancing Freedom and Responsibility
Freedom and responsibility were never supposed to operate in isolation to each other; they need to run in tandem, perfectly at balance. If there was an imbalance where we had too much freedom or authority without the responsibility we’d become susceptible to irresponsibility on the one hand. If, on the other hand, we had too much responsibility for our authority, life would be too hard (i.e. unfair) on us. As with most things, to achieve the mature result which promotes love, there must be a balance.
The more we can accept a balanced portion of responsibility for our own lives the freer we are, and therefore the more mature and loving we can become. This is accepting only the appropriate amount of responsibility. If we take on too little or too much responsibility we decrease our consequent freedom.
It pays us to be appropriately accountable, though it is a natural default (of our immaturity) to resist being held accountable, for we see the possibility of ‘blame’ and we run from it. We usually don’t mind holding others to account though, do we? We do these things ironically, again, to our own loss of freedom when we hold these views.
Ownership plays a big part in being accountable. Where we own things we accordingly do whatever we need to do to manage them; we quickly get over the temptation to make excuses. And when our self concept of ownership is clear we are then decisively balanced and freedom to love is the natural by-product.
Ownership is the essence, therefore, of maturity.
Putting it All Together
Freedom is about control. Wherever we feel in control we also feel free. Control suggests we are also responsible for certain things. This is perfectly amenable to us; we own it. It both suits and drives our purpose to be held accountable, and this too drives us to perform according to our values which are aligned to our responsibilities.
The whole purpose of boundaries is ensuring everyone does what is appropriately accorded to themselves in their life roles.
If all people did this there would be no lack of love in the world because people would take seriously their responsibilities, they’d enjoy the freedom those responsibilities implicate, and overall they’d demonstrate ownership, which is the self reconciliation of their roles in life.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
 Dr. Henry Cloud, The Simple Scoop on Boundaries (Cloud-Townsend Resources, 2000). Retrieved 9 May 2010. Available: http://www.cloudtownsend.com/library/articles/7articles6.php.