Do we become aware of our ordinary freedoms only when we lose them? Do we feel discomfort when we sense an oppression to our legitimate protests eg polluted air, rivers, land, poor quality education, poor health care, corruption? 

Maybe our freedoms are not so ordinary after all; our basic rights are expressed in most constitutions – which do not allow for ostracism on paper, yet is practised against many in our country – 

Image result for rumi quote on the ordinary

I flew back from Plettenberg Bay last Saturday with Kgakgamatso after a few very special days there. I walked around my little garden here in Johannesburg and was thrilled to see a few of the pot plants on the patio sprouting orchid buds!

I’d been wondering what to do about this pot plant in a different part of the garden. Everything looked pretty dead. But when I looked at it this morning in among the debris, this is what I saw – it makes me think that freedom can sprout in the most unlikely conditions to it fullest expression-

Elie Wiesel: We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. - Martin Luther King, Jr.Thank you for reading! I so appreciate your comments –


28 Comments on Freedom O

  1. Thank you for helping me hope for freedom in the most unlikely places. I love the sprouting out of dead leaves and those buds emerging from brown branches. I have the freedom to take clean water for granted, but I can’t take freedom for granted with an oppressive presence at the head of our government. Even if I am free, so many are not. I hope we will awaken from this nightmare soon.

    • Thanks Elaine – hope sometimes does appear in unexpected places 🙂 Here in SA we’re on edge re upcoming elections – in just under three weeks – and we wonder whether we’ll hear the same old same old again. A few opposition parties revive Mr. Mandela’s words … many ignore his historic plea for freedom for all –

  2. I love the ordinary since mostly everything that is ordinary is also extraordinary. If we stopped to consider the improbability of ordinary life, we would never stop being in awe. Thanks, Susan for another thought-provoking post. xo

  3. Loved the thought in that quote… it is so ordinary to love the beautiful, but so beautiful to love the ordinary. And I loved that analogy about your orchid plant too.

    Totally agree with Merrill… we really do take ordinary freedoms for granted. For example, the freedom to be able to walk around, or express ourselves with our voice, or even with our words on our blogs. But, if you ever stop to think about them, they are all extra-ordinary.

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    • Thanks for coming by Kaddu. I’m glad you like the analogies! I like your examples too, of walking around, using our voices and words.

  4. I do think we take “ordinary freedoms” for granted. Those ordinary ones would be extraordinary for many. Thank you for your reflections on this subject, Susan.

    • Yes that’s true, what is ordinary for us is extraordinary for others – thanks for pointing that out Merrill .. which shows I guess how much we take for granted ..

  5. What a fabulous reflection on oppression and freedom, Susan. I appreciate the symbolism for freedom you found in your own garden – a message of hope.
    Also love the quote by Elie Wiesel. How true is that: We must take sides, take a stand for what is right. I’m with you on that.

  6. Until and unless it happens to us, and maybe not even then, we can’t miss something we don’t value, fully understand or appreciate the significance of. The first sentence (question) asked in an article I read today helps illustrate this point:

    “Will someone please explain to me why Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered a hero for violating laws sustaining the system of racial discrimination, while Julian Assange is considered a villain for violating laws sustaining the system of imperial war?”

    ~ Excerpt from article, “Julian and Martin: Reflections on the Arrest of Assange” by Richard Rubenstein

    Here in the US, many of us (especially Democrats) imagine ourselves to be strong supporters and protectors of basic, ordinary freedoms for others. But are we really? The question speaks for itself.

    • I wonder whether we recognise the value of something ONLY when we don’t have it. I think so – eg the lack of rain, water cuts, electricity blackouts and so on. Up until it’s ‘not there’ and it’s been taken for granted, we may not have an appreciation for the value of it.

      Yes, are we Really protectors of ordinary freedoms for others? It’s a question we have to ask and answer to .. placatory words are often a lie to the truth.

      Thanks for coming by LB.

  7. I try to make note of my ordinary freedoms -lovely term btw- when I practice gratitude daily because I’ve been in that place where I only realized there was something to miss, after I’d lost it. Even something as simple as not having a cold, is a great freedom. I sure do much better being able to breath when I’m congested, ha ha.
    This is a great post. You’ve got me thinking about all the ordinary things <3

  8. Oh, it’s so very easy to forget how beautiful the “ordinary” is and how the “shock of the familiar” as I call it can catch us all unaware. I love the quote about loving the leaf and not the showy rose, but the hard working, ordinary leaf, which, when truly seen is also a thing of deep mystery and beauty. Hmm, this makes me think of all the people, the teams, etc, who work quietly behind the scenes in all kinds of places and institutions, those who are beavering away, and often, hardly ever receive any acknowledgement for their all work.

    I’m so pleased you decided to take part in the A to Z Challenge this year as daily you give me lots and lots of great quotes and musings to ponder and reflect on. And I love reading through your wonderful comments too, which add such depth and richness to the whole experience. Yay! You’ve passed the halfway mark! Thank you. Love and light, Deborah.

    • I love that – the shock of the familiar! How many times I’ve arrived home after travelling and experienced the physical feeling of gratitude and joy – being in and of and among the familiar. And seeing things with new eyes I suppose!

      I can see how the leaf is often overlooked – it’s so much part of, yet apart from a blooming rose whose beauty gets the most attention as it’s the one most easily seen. It reminds me of the thorns on a rose branch also …which we notice when we get pricked, and bleed.

      Your metaphor of teams and individuals who work in the background and who are rarely acknowledged for their essential background work leading to the success of the ‘project’, is a very expressive one.

      Yes! Have passed the midway mark! Whew! Thank you Deborah for your always rich comments. I can’t tell you how it gladdens my heart when people come by and make heart felt comments.

      Love and light to you too 🙂 Susan

  9. I so welcome the admonishment to love the ordinary – there is such power in that. I’ve always had this inexplicable sense that what we see sees us – it’s a mutual receptivity that blesses us both.

    It’s troubling how easily we fall prey to giving up our “ordinary” freedoms. Sometimes I wonder if there is something critically wrong with us – that we’ve become so intellectually short-sighted that we don’t see what’s happening.

    And then there are the gifts like your garden has given you. Reminders that if we look closely, if we dare to see, there is in fact something there. Reminders of what needs nurturing and care.

    • Thanks Deborah for your lovely comment. What we see sees us – reminds me of Rumi’s quote: what you are seeking is seeking you.

      Do we realise what our loss is only when we don’t have it? Is this what it takes for us to wake up, finally? Or do we still not see – do we so slowly become acclimatised to loss of the ordinary, that the gross becomes the new normal ..

  10. Hi, Susan – I believe that we do become more appreciative of ‘ordinary’ freedoms once we risk losing them. A good friend of mine has been in the hospital for the past two weeks. Throughout his years, he has always been the life of the party and has done so many adventurous things. Now, he just wants to be able to go back home, sit outside and enjoy his garden. In the end, it is often the ‘ordinary’ that we most desire.

    • I wish your friend well Donna. Maybe he’ll get his sense of adventure back again after his full recuperation but always those moments of being still and at home are so precious! I’ve been keeping an eye on a friend of mine who is slowly recovering from a hip op. O how she loves to sit in the sun on her little patio for a few moments each day and we have a good laugh about ordinary things! Thank you for coming by 🙂

  11. Your nearly dead plant is an excellent example of freedom. Just when we think the world around us has fallen apart and died, it just takes strength to fight and stand up to the world for us to come back. Hopefully, you will cut back the dead parts of your plant so that life will spring free!! INSPIRATION!! Welcome home, and I LOVE your quotes! <3

    • I like the nearly dead orchid too Gwynn! I’ll be using one of the gardeners from the complex in the next day or so advise me on the best way to deal with it. If that wee little bud has strength, so too do we… Thank you for coming by 🙂

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