If you have ever felt the fire of freedom burning within, then you know well the value of free choice and the power of freedom to choose for yourself. Conscious choice is a cornerstone of spiritual wellbeing that many throughout history have sacrificed their lives for. Great adventures spring forth from the courage to make authentic choices – the right choices for you – even when the consequences are high, and the pressure is immense. This is when it matters most, and our deepest convictions are put to the test.

The heart yearns to step outside the boundaries of the known, safe and secure to see what lies beyond – dangers, uncertainty and all. We remember the adventurers, freedom fighters, and spiritual leaders, those who stepped out of their comfort zone and stood up for what they believed in regardless of the cost. They sacrificed social acceptance in exchange for a higher calling and a promise of an authentic existence. Maori and European men, woman, and children left their homes and sailed thousands of miles over the open ocean risking everything they owned and their very lives to seek a better life in New Zealand, away from the safe (or not so safe) places they had previously known. They had a choice, stay home and wonder, or set sail and discover what possibilities existed beyond the threshold of their known experience, for better or worse.

In ancient Greece around the time that their civilization began to slip into moral decline, Socrates the Greek philosopher was challenging the authorities, encouraging the youth to stand up for freedom, and the right to question and live in integrity. After several warnings which Socrates chose to ignore, he was finally given an ultimatum. Go into exile or choose to die. He chose death and making a statement that still holds strong 2,500 years later he willingly drunk a cup of Hemlock poison. His choice could not have been clearer.

We have become used to having multiple choices, many options from which we can choose and hence craft our own destiny. This is changing rapidly, and like Socrates, our spiritual strength is developed through the process of considering and consciously choosing what we say yes or no to. These are the times when making choices becomes more difficult; the options are limited, and the costs are high. When our wellbeing, relationships, and social standing are at risk, conflict is inevitable, and we wonder whether our freedom is worth the struggle?

Within you burns the fire of freedom. Courage to stand for your convictions, to make choices that are authentic – regardless of the consequences – and not give in to peer pressure. Now is the time. Tune into your heart, into your conscience. Mute out the loud voices around you and take the time to be silent and still. Listen to your deep convictions and freedom will stir within your very being. Each of you must make your own choices, face the consequences of those choices, and decide how much freedom means to you.