April is a month when we celebrate our Freedom. Undoubtedly freedom is understood differently by different people. Some believe that freedom means the realization of rights, some believe that freedom is a license to do whatever you want to without any interference, others believe that freedom means being able to vote.
Lets look at what some of our leading personalities said about freedom? Fredrich Engels said in 1977, “freedom is the recognition of necessity.” Lenin said in 1936, “It is true that liberty is precious-so precious that it must be rationed” Abraham Lincoln said in 1856, “ Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.” Nelson Mandela said in 1985, “I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.” And Gandhiji said in 1926 “The highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied; unbridled license is a sign of vulgarity, injurious alike to self and one’s neighbours.”
The Oxford dictionary defines freedom as being
1. the power or right to act, speak or think freely
2. the state of being free
3. the state of not being subject to or affected by something undesirable and
4. a special privilege or right of access.
Going back to the pre 1994 years and looking at where we come from, we see that there were laws that forbade us from attending certain schools, living in certain areas, getting medical assistance from certain hospitals, relaxing on certain beaches, enjoying certain recreational facilities, being employed in certain jobs, holding certain positions, saying certain things without courting banning orders or house arrests and associating with certain people who were considered to be a danger to the security of the state. Compare what we have today with that situation! Does it look like we are free? Perhaps not to some people. and our country together?
What these different definitions entail is that freedom is self control, that freedom cannot be unlimited but rather is curbed by the freedoms of others and that our enjoyment of freedom is linked it cannot be divided. We either enjoy freedom together or we do not have freedom. Today we note that people are feeling caged because of violence and crime. Yet many who commit crimes feel that they are now free to do what they please and that they are entitled to what they are taking, or that it is important that this government I shown up in a bad light by their inability to stop crime. People are even going to the extent of tarnishing the image of our country by advertising this abroad.
It is time that we all realize that our lives are tied together. Harm to one part will surely harm the other. So we need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We need to begin to realize that our access to freedom is not really freedom unless we are prepared to share it with fellow South Africans. We are after all in joint bondage. When that realization dons on us then we can begin to enjoy freedom together.
Gandhiji explained that Swaraj or freedom means, Swa means mine and Raj means kingdom- therefore swaraj means kingdom or rule over one’s self. It is not freedom or license to do whatever you wish to do but rather governing yourself so that others may enjoy freedom as well. Freedom means responsibility rather than rights.”
All these quotes indicate that freedom has a much deeper meaning and that to attain real freedom each individual has to take responsibility so that together we can all enjoy freedom. As proud South African then is it not time for us to begin to turn things around in order to really enjoy our freedom