AUGUSTA – Here and there in Maine, visitors from away may spend a pleasant summer afternoon wandering through jade-green mazes hewed out of cornfields.

In other tranquil spots around the globe, garden mazes (or labyrinths) provide a quiet respite from the cares of modern life.

There are other sorts of mazes, too. The most famous one in ancient fable was a dark and dismal place — the Cave of the Minotaur — which was used to keep young people captive on the island of Crete.

There is yet another type of labyrinth, a labyrinth not made of stone or shrub or tree, but a labyrinth of error, and this labyrinth holds captive the minds of our young.

Down one corridor of this labyrinth we see an art exhibit encouraging students to trample on the flag. Down another corridor we see a student parading indecently through a crowd.

Down yet another corridor we hear a campus radio station advocating sexual immorality. And at every twist and turn, we meet another corridor needing to be explored, another activity perhaps worse than the others, and as yet unknown to parents and the public.

Those trapped in the labyrinth hear a voice echo down the stone halls, a sweet voice luring them onward into deeper perplexity. The honeyed words entice them forward with friendly warmth, claiming that personal freedom is the highest and only goal of life.

It is a falsehood that makes the entry to the labyrinth alluring, and the exit exceedingly difficult to find.

At the University of Maine at Farmington, and at other institutions of higher learning, this falsehood has taken on the character of an official dogma.

All the activities mentioned above, the flag-trampling, the indecent parade through town, the advocacy of sexual immorality over the public airwaves, were done at UMF in the name of absolute personal freedom.

But not all free actions are morally correct; and once carried out, these actions lead to painful consequences. The press spoke of the “carnival atmosphere” of the “topless march” in Farmington.

The parade in Farmington attracted the attention of many anonymous men, some in sunglasses and carrying video cameras.

Due to the actions of the organizer of the event, undertaken with the tacit approval of the university administration, these newcomers to town may require increased scrutiny by the Farmington police and campus security.

It is not unlikely that sex offenders — past, present or potential — were in the crowd and remain in town — a dangerous mix in a campus campus community.

The event in Farmington proves that immoral actions sometimes lead to deeper depravity, but they can also result in stricter laws and stronger penalties.

In either case, always, there is a corresponding loss of freedom. When internal moral laws are discarded, harsher, more coercive laws rush in to take their place; and as reliance on the external law grows stronger, the inner law grows weaker and more despised.

Once enticed into the labyrinth, many students will find it hard to break free. Wrong choices regarding personal morality and civic responsibility will dog them throughout their lives.

Young and idealistic, they entered college in search of truth and guidance.

In turn, they were left to wander, and sometimes stumble, by those who said freedom always trumps morality and virtuous conduct.

The escape from the Cave of the Minotaur was simple, a clever trick improvised by an ingenious maiden. She used a skein of white wool to mark her path out through the labyrinth, back to her loved ones and the safety of home.

The escape from the modern-day labyrinth can be just as simple, but it will require our participation and hard work.

Those in positions of authority need to mark out a path of virtuous conduct based on right moral principles.

Failing to instruct our youth in ethics and morals does not make them free. It adds to their captivity.

Similarly, the public also needs to know just what is going on at the University of Maine at Farmington. For as Jesus said, only the Truth can set us all free.

 

– Special to the Press Herald