Friday, April 27, 2007

Freedom Day

Today is Freedom Day for South Africa.
We were once a people divided by race, oppressed by hate, and trapped in fear. A miracle of transformation saw those who were once oppressed become the rulers of this land. Desmond Tutu coined the phrase “a rainbow nation” to describe our dream that this land should be a home for all who live here. We have eleven languages, people with roots in many different parts of the world, and a variety of social and political cultures.

But are we free?
The short answer is that we are only free when our neighbours are free too. Our Zimbabwean neighbours are (mis)ruled by a despotic President Robert Mugabe. Slightly further north are the fearful people of Darfur, who are terrorised by other Sudanese citizens intent on driving them off their land. And then there is the Congolese struggle for power between government and rebel forces. So we are not free while their citizens flee to find refuge in our country.

But are we free?
Another answer suggest that we are not free while some South Africans live comfortably with access to education, work, and healthcare, and many others struggle to survive. While people face the ravages of HIV/Aids, TB, hunger, rampant crime, and homelessness, we are not free.

But are we free?
I see the greedy self-interest that drives many of the newly elected Parliamentary representatives and Government officials. I note the lucrative bonus incentives given to the newly appointed board members of large corporate business – the same businesses who pay minimum wages to their workers. I despair at the consumer society that traps our children into thinking that PS3 and Motorola, Disney and MacDonald, Paris Hilton and Beyonce, are the desired objects of their affection. And I am aware of the passion for sport that drives our nation to national despair when our teams lose. We do not live live with joyful freedom.

So what is it to be free?
Richard Rohr observes that true freedom is when we learn to let go. We are free only when we let go of our limited image of God, and discover a God beyond our controlling explanations. We are free when we abandon our self-centred individualism, and embrace the community around us. We are set free when we discover that the rule of God is far bigger than the Christian church. And we are free when we abandon prayer as a spiritual duty and discover the gift of silence. (Richard Rohr Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go).

Pray for me that I may be free.
And pray for my land – that we may never abandon the dream to be a Rainbow Nation.

No comments: