Each individual is freedom essentially. Each person is free to chose oneself. This could lead to a flourishing life, or a life of continual bondage, which ultimately restricts one’s freedom.

There comes a time (or, many times) in one’s life in which one finds oneself in a crux. The variables will change as much is contingent on the subject and nature of the situation. Yet, the basic formula remains. There are times where one does not know how to act, does know know if an action will further the development of oneself, or inhibit oneself in some detrimental manner. The reflection of such moments is the formulation of despair. If one remains in despair, then despair is sin.

Why would one desire to stay in despair? The word has negative connotations to it and certainly one would not will oneself into it (masochists excluded). Yet, so often, one remains in despair. This paradoxical entanglement is clarified when despair is recognized as sin. Why do we sin? Well yes, because we are sinners. After chalking up the perfect Sunday School response, the brutally honest answer is that sin is fun. It’s enjoyable, or if not prima facie enjoyable, it provides some desired outcome. Sin, despite its need to be overcome, provides some (false) comfort.

So it is with despair.

Individuals remain in despair because in some odd fashion it is comfortable. While perhaps not the finest moment, despair is the entangled freedom in which one withholds action for fear of endless possible outcomes. Indeed it is frightening to make decisions, especially ones of gravity.

But the longer one remains in despair, the longer one recognizes one’s own dissatisfaction with self. But yet, there is little movement. Insofar as sin produces some desired result, despair looms large the false comfort of a lack of decision. There is no working out of one’s condition, no movement for better or worse, but a continual recognition that is not true to oneself because of despair. And for that reason, despair is sin.

Personally, there is much to be thankful for at this moment. I have recently been accepted as a research fellow in my desired area of study, I am privileged to teach philosophy (a task that I take with highest seriousness and humility), and am being blessed by many friends and supporters as I strive to achieve my goals.  Yet simultaneously there is angst, and yes, despair. Despair over things which I do not have, and especially over things I once had but no longer find myself present to. Despair has been festering far too long. It’s made me lose holistic sight of self and become paralyzed by counterfactuals, false hopes, love lost, and issues transgressed. They are there. But yet, there remains time where one must push past despair and into action. Despair is a comfort, but a sinful one. It is a false comfort, a prolonged reflection of false selfhood. The identification of despair is the first pathway out of it. Freedom begins to be loosened. The next step, whatever it brings, is mine with God’s help.

Self is freedom, freedom is self.

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  1. Great post! You should consider reading some Schopenhauer. He argues that, though we can do as we will (in fact, he sees the proposition as tautological), we cannot will as we will. It might be interesting to see how you look at despair after reading some of his thoughts.

    Julien Haller

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