And while it is fair and valid for Washington to contextualize and frame the fundamental choice for international society as one between freedom and authoritarianism, ultimately, this choice between freedom and authoritarianism is contingent upon a necessary choice which is broader and more basic and fundamental in nature and scope, namely, the choice between good and evil. Thus, we cannot make the contingent choice of freedom and authoritarianism unless we first make the necessary choice that is behind the contingent choice, namely, the choice between good and evil.
And as mentioned before, the highest good which one can achieve in life is an “intellectual love of God” to borrow from Spinoza. This intellectual love of God can only be borne out of knowledge of God. But in order to know God, man must first know himself. As Blaise Pascal argued:
“If man studied himself, he would see how incapable he is of going further. How could a part possibly know the whole? But perhaps he would aspire to know at least the parts to which he bears some proportion. But the parts of the world are all so related and linked together that I think it is impossible to know one without the other and without the whole.”
In short: “The eternity of things in themselves or in God must still amaze our brief span of life.” Salvation, then, amounts to being lost in thought, for it is only through getting lost in thought that we will be able to achieve the highest good in life – namely, an intellectual love of God – and thus achieve the freedom we are yearning for. As the Islamic tradition states, one second of contemplation is greater than years of prayer.
Arguably, the difference between good and evil is a difference in the choices and the tradeoffs we make through the course of our lives. Saint Augustine wrote the following in regards to why both good and evil exist despite the fact that God can only stand for what is good:
“There is no reason to doubt that the contrary dispositions which have developed among these good and bad angels are due, not to different natures and origins, for God the Author and Creator of all substances has created them for both, but to the dissimilar choices and desires of these angels themselves. Some, remaining faithful to God, the common good of all, have lived in the enjoyment of His eternity, truth, and love, while others, preferring the enjoyment of their own power, as though they were their own good, departed from the higher good and common blessedness for all and turned to goods of their own choosing.”
Augustine added: “Preferring the pomp of pride to this sublimity of eternity, the craftiness of vanity to the certainty of truth, and the turmoil of dissension to the union of love, they became proud, deceitful, and envious.” It follows that it is only through union with God whereby both happiness and the highest good in life can be achieved and that “there is no other good which can make any rational or intellectual creature happy except God.” In essence, any condition or state other than union with God is both contrary to the basic rules of logic and a sheer perversion of man’s true nature.