no easy walk

Nelson Mandela said, “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” As South Africa once again finds itself facing the threat of inhibited freedoms his words seem eerily prophetic. Fearing freedom, whether our own or that of others, is one of the very real tragedies of our time. As Plato said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Although we try so hard to isolate our so-called individual freedom from that of the people around us, no one is free when others are oppressed. We are an enslaved society and those of us who seem to optimize freedom are often bound by our own denial, making such an exhibition of shaking of our chains only to find that in the process we have severed ourselves from the foundation. To quote Mandela again, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

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