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This Freedom Month, let’s find liberation through our...

Defend Truth

Opinionista

This Freedom Month, let’s find liberation through our own four freedoms

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Lwando Xaso is an attorney and a writer exploring the interaction between race, gender, history and popular culture. She is the author of the book, ‘Made in South Africa, A Black Woman’s Stories of Rage, Resistance and Progress’.

In our present-day reality, years after apartheid fell, freedom is now a much more nuanced value and its demands today, I would say, are freedom from want and freedom from fear.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

In his State of the Union address on 6 January 1941, President Franklin D Roosevelt of the United States addressed Congress in an effort to shift America out of neutrality into action as Europe struggled to fend off Hitler. In that speech Roosevelt articulated freedoms that he proclaimed as being essential for democracy to flourish: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These are widely known as the four freedoms.

It would be useful if freedom could be summed up in these four boxes for everyone. However, freedom means different things to all of us. The search for freedom in our country has been largely defined by the struggle for racial equality. The immediate cause of freedom for a significant time was the fall of apartheid.

In our present-day reality, years after apartheid fell, freedom is now a much more nuanced value and its demands today, I would say, are freedom from want and freedom from fear.

As we ruminate on the meaning and continue to struggle for freedom, I would urge all of us to articulate our own four freedoms as our personal manifestos for our own liberation. My four freedoms, which I desire for all of us, are: freedom from lovelessness, freedom from timidity, freedom from materialism and freedom from scarcity.

Freedom from lovelessness: If you follow this column you know love is the virtue I champion above all others. Love has become urgent for me – I have realised how severely starved our country is of love. Today we can barely point to any leaders who profess the idea of love as being at the centre of our development as a nation. If we observe all that ails us in our society we will recognise that it all stems from lovelessness in our homes, schools, workplaces and all our shared spaces. Until we are brave enough to choose love, corruption and violence will prevail.

Freedom from timidity: One cannot speak of realising love in our communities without seeking freedom from timidity. Our world is loveless because we are timid. Love requires a vulnerability and a humanity that we have disconnected ourselves from because to love is terrifying. As author bell hooks says, love puts us at risk. Therefore, without freedom from our own timidity we will not risk. We have hardened our hearts towards one another and our country because it is simply easier to survive that way. Courage will allow us to dare to risk to love even if the outcome is not guaranteed.

Freedom from materialism: Who we are and who we should aspire to be in today’s terms is defined by how much we have. With the prevalence of social media, we are not just trying to keep up with the Joneses, we are in the Joneses’ kitchen. Capitalism thrives on encouraging our desire for things and for us to compete for those things. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life’s material pleasures, but when it becomes so central to who we are to the point where we beg, steal and borrow things, then it is no longer pleasure but depravity. Our gluttony is a disgrace at a time of such human despair and impoverishment.

Freedom from scarcity: Our limited views of ourselves and the world have driven us to oppress those we deem to be threats to our resources. Scarcity is a neurosis that pits us against the world. Our belief that there is not enough for all of us brings out the worst in us. Our selfishness promotes the deprivation of human rights for those who we believe are different from us. Scarcity is rooted in fear. It imprisons us. Our liberation will only be realised when we are courageous enough to choose love over fear.

Write to [email protected] about your idea of freedom and we will publish your views on the readers’ page. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.

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