H: Hope of Freedom

“There is tension in our nation today. South Africans are worried about the future of their children and their country. The nation-building foundations laid by Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada and others are being demolished while the whole world watches. Our hopes and aspirations are being dashed.”

I excerpted the above from an article by The Freedom Movement in South Africa dated April 2017. 2 years on tensions remain, exacerbated by pre-electioneering posturing by certain powerful parties, especially the governing party. Election Day is the 8th May … 

In my country we have people whose hopes have been dashed countless times, promises broken to them a zillion times and still they live in dire poverty. The poorest of the poor. A great many previously disadvantaged lives have improved significantly. We have leaders in the sciences, business, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, music – but the majority of the previously disadvantaged remains dire. Yet, it is among those whose hopes are the highest. In spite of the evidence of the great failure of our last 25 years of democracy (on many levels eg education, health, gender issues) their hope is that their time has come to receive. Is that what Hope is, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Even though they are aware that this government has stolen countless billions from the tax payer, whose money was to be used by the government for improvement in basic necessities, education, schooling, houses, the creation of training and jobs and better employment opportunities for all? Promises, promises, promises – even though that is what they’ve said before, many times in addressing the nation … broken, broken broken. 

And, yet hope remains. Hope for the freedom promised, freedom from the shackles of poverty, freedom to wish for a better life for themselves and families. Is this what makes it nobler, to retain hope in the face of it all? The stronger one’s faith the stronger one’s hope? Or is this blind hope and of those who know no other way –

*this next has absolutely nothing to do with what I’ve written above – but it is something I came across while doing a little research for this H post.

Ayn Rand

“When I die I hope to go to heaven–whatever that is–and I want to be able to afford the price of admission.”― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

It’s a very bold statement; I like it a lot. For me it means that if I reach heaven, I hope to have earned it by who I’ve been on earth in word and deed. 

Sue S: Doctors always remember things by mnemonics. Freedom is the 3 H’s: Hope (goals to work towards); Health, Happiness (positive attitude). In contrast with the 3D fetters of depression, disillusionment/disappointment or disease.

Thank you for reading – I’d love to hear your comments –

30 Comments on AtoZ H Hope Freedom

  1. The same parallel story running in our country too… we hope for the best; and affirm ourselves that the best is yet to come. The first quote by nelson Mandela is awesome, thanks for sharing:)

  2. Thanks again. It’s clear in the USA that hope for being on top through repression of others is alive and strong–and in my part of the country, those in the worst condition who are cold in the winter and can’t afford clothing or dentists for their kids hang on to hope of being on top despite promises made and broken over and over again. There is so little kindness in this kind of hope at the expense of others.

    I take TS Eliot’s lines in the Four Quartets, so often spoken by Marion Woodman, as putting a check on the Ego’s perspective and waiting for the Soul to guide:
    “I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
    For hope would be hope for the wrong thing…”

  3. This litany of broken promises seems to be reverberating the world round, Susan. I think it’s the dark side of humanity coming into the light so it can be healed and released. At least that’s what I hope is happening and that it doesn’t take too much longer.
    As for Ayn Rand, a brilliant writer, yes, but her ideas seem to me to be at the heart of some of our most hurtful practices, i.e., the desires of the individual trump the good of the collective. She makes a case for extreme wealth being okay even if it’s to the detriment of society and believes that if you have nothing then you probably didn’t work hard enough. One of the main architects of the U.S.’s recent tax cut for the ultra rich was Congressman Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand acolyte. Those tax cuts are putting our country kajillions of dollars in the red with little to show for it so a few super rich can get another yacht or something. Complaining about it makes you a socialist. Meanwhile the homeless population grows as more and more sink into poverty. That’s why I no longer admire Ayn Rand. She started this modern “me first” shit storm.

    • I also think that the dark side is being exposed for what it is Pam … and then hopefully fully dredged up and acknowledged so the work can begin. The wheels turn grindingly slowly but turn they do ..

      Yes I was aware that Paul Ryan and cohorts are adherents of Ayn Rand – didn’t he say that he or they wouldn’t hire anyone unless they were followers of Ayn Rand’s philosophy? But I think that they turned this around in some way – they didn’t get what her philosophy was. Those in power here in SA and around the world are just disgustingly greedy and corrupt. This was not her philosophy. She wanted to bring down those in positions of corrupt power and to bring to light the futility of those who followed them. At least that is my understanding. Yes, she was in favour of the I – not necessarily the ‘me first’. I’ve heard the shit storm about her in various media. Interestingly, my brother met her many years ago in Scotland at a BnB where he was staying – and had tea and scones with her. If I remember correctly, he said that she was a sad woman who was concerned about how her philosophy was not taken for what it was … freedom of anyone to express themselves in any way. A street sweeper who did his/her job diligently, or a person whose only job was to maintain train tracks to the best of his/her ability was as worthy as one who built skyscrapers, provided that that architect did it to the best of his/her ability –

  4. Susan ~ Placing our faith in any capitalist or imperialist political system, somehow believing it will free us from the *HELLISH* conditions these same systems helped to create, is a FALSE hope. One example of such a system would be the more superficially appealing, socially-acceptable form, neoliberalism, which Nelson Mandela seems to have felt compelled to support in the spirit of political compromise. No matter how well meaning we might be, it’s a hope that enslaves and blinds us as it mesmerizes with its lies. The least among us ~meaning the colonized, the poor, the elderly, the sick, the foreigners, the refugees, the truth-tellers and prophets ~ inevitably suffer the most under the lies of these oppressive systems.

    Which isn’t to say no one *ever* benefits, or that *some* don’t benefit greatly, or that the least among us (who continue to suffer) never receive any benefits at all, at least in the short-run or in *theory*. For a lie to be most effective ( and this includes the lies we tell ourselves), the deception must be less obvious, particularly to those who continue to benefit both materially and socially from these systems. To think, and speak, and act differently, and to challenge friends and community to think and behave differently as well, is to risk social and economic alienation. How would we survive without the support and validation of the community and friends we’ve come to rely on? And in a more practical sense, who would buy our brand, our product?

    Coincidentally, about a week ago I began reading Erich Fromm’s book, “Escape From Freedom”, then moved on to some of his other books, just as you were posting on the subject of “freedom”. Though I’d read “The Art of Loving” long ago when I was still relatively young, uninformed and indoctrinated, I’d forgotten how insightful he was. I hadn’t realized until recently how much his ideas must’ve resonated and sunk in with me way back then.

    “It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health . . . The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane.” ~ Erich Fromm, “The Sane Society”

    About the Ayn Rand quote included in your post. I don’t know how familiar you are with her ideas, but Rand worshiped the gods of self-interest, selfishness, and unfettered capitalism. She believed in a hollow world where the desires of the powerful and privileged took absolute precedence over those less fortunate, regardless of moral or ethical concerns.

    Thomas Merton, in examining the nature of freedom, free will and choice, wrote:

    “To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell. Selfishness is doomed to frustration, centered as it is upon a lie.” . . .

    “The immature conscience is not its own master. It is merely the delegate of the conscience of another person, or of a group, or of a party, or of a social class, or of a nation, or of a race. Therefore, it does not make real moral decisions of its own, it simply parrots the decisions of others. It does not make judgments of its own, it merely “conforms” to the party line. It does not really have motives or intentions of its own. Or if it does, it wrecks them by twisting and rationalizing them to fit the intentions of another. That is not moral freedom. It makes true love impossible. For if I am to love truly and freely, I must be able to give something that is truly my own to another. If my heart does not first belong to me, how can I give it to another? It is not mine to give!”

    ~ Thomas Merton, “No Man Is an Island”

    • Thanks LB for coming by. I’m in full agreement that the majority is often wrong and the majority vote does not mean that it’s the best ‘outcome’. And I like that you say about ‘false hope’.

      I am familiar with Ayn Rand’s 2 novels which I read many years ago in my late teens. I re-read Atlas Shrugged about 3 or 4 years ago. She was uncompromisingly in favour of capitalism and the free market and to each his own. And very much in favour of the individual’s freedom to work in an unfettered environment free of govt. shackles or weaklings in the govt or corporations who espouse one thing and enact another; who she saw quite clearly did not do the job they were entrusted to and had hidden agendas, ie to keep the power to themselves. She was aware that govt’s and those of their ilk sought to keep the poor oppressed. I found her description of weaklings in positions of power and her outing them very real and impressive. And that by the heroes removing themselves from society and industry, the weaklings in govt and corporations were brought down …

      In terms of relationships, I reckon she was on the side of Thomas Merton – that you give to another only what you are yourself.

      Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” And Eleanor Roosevelt – ‘No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent’.

      Yes, there is a backlash against Nelson Mandela’s political compromise. We’re coming up for ‘Freedom Day’ on 27th April, the date of his election 25 years ago.

      • Thanks for allowing me to comment here, Susan. Having the freedom to disagree is becoming a rare thing these days.

        I see Thomas Merton’s deeper perspective as being a healing balm and much-needed antidote for some of Ayn Rand’s more extreme and distorted views. If she was sometimes misunderstood, I think it was probably because she didn’t know or understand herself, nor do I believe she LOVED herself. People who genuinely love themselves and who understand what it is to struggle and suffer, also love and have empathy for others. Then love takes on a transcendent quality and becomes universal. Our love for others (which is a decision rather than just a feeling) is no longer reserved for those deemed worthy or deserving of love or its blessings. It’s true good works matter. Yet it’s also true that love isn’t something to be bought or sold, or earned.

        Also, I think you may have misunderstood my thoughts on Nelson Mandela’s presidency and the missed opportunity he had at one point to challenge mainstream thinking within South Africa and among its (predominantly white) ruling capitalist class. That said, our systems rarely allow or tolerate divergent or radical thinking. Nor are they based on concepts like universal LOVE, which is why I no longer place my faith in our systems.

        Although I understand the pressure he must’ve been under (he must’ve suffered a great deal), I don’t view Mandela’s neoliberal compromises as having been good (in the truest sense of the word) for anyone, but most especially for black South Africans or the poor, as evidenced by the results ~ *some* of which were outlined in the following excerpt taken from a 2014 article written by political activist, Ajamu Baraka, who later went on to become the Green Party’s nominee for Vice President in 2016 US elections:

        “The deteriorating situation for poor and working-class people in the U.S. parallels that in South Africa, which in turn demonstrates the unfortunate similarities between Obama and Nelson Mandela. It is widely understood that no individual except Mandela could have provided the political cover for the ANC to shift from a movement espousing the radical redistribution of economic resources and power from the white minority to the black majority, to a movement that essentially embraced neoliberal policies that would maintain white domination in every aspect of South African life.

        And no one but the person of Nelson Mandela could have defused broad-based opposition to the ANC’s turn to neoliberalism during his presidency that saw black unemployment go from 16 percent to over 30 percent; average household income of the black population falling 19 percent and 50 percent of black South Africans earning just 9.7 percent of national income while the richest 20% of the white minority earned 65 percent.”

        https://blackagendareport.com/content/budget-deal-and-neoliberalism-us-and-south-african-connection

        Under neoliberal rule, in both the US, and South Africa, the disparities between the rich and poor have grown exponentially. While I understand you and I may disagree, this is the truth as I understand it. It’s what I’ve experienced in my own life and what I witness all around me every day. There’s freedom in knowing.

        • I’ll check out the report in the morning thanks LG. It is of grave concern to all that the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer, exponentially. No-one doubts that. It is true that on the whole things are better yet the poorest of the poor are still marginalised. Corporations businesses (large and small) and NGO’s do much that is necessary to pick up the slack where govt has failed our people. The oppressed often turns into the oppressor ..

          I know that under Obama more drones were used than under any other presidency – a startling fact. And that neo-liberalism is fast becoming a hard right –

          Universal love – a high ideal worth striving towards. When this will happen may not happen in our life times but there is a swing I feel. It is essential for each individual to have self-love and self-worth and unless I totally misunderstood Ayn Rand, this is what she espoused and has been distorted. The chimney sweeper or the street sweeper or the train track guardian – those jobs fulfil a function and are to be honoured if that person does his or her job knowingly and with understanding and is paid their fair share.

          I believe there’s a BBC documentary on Ayn Rand which I have still to see. I have no idea whether it portrays her in a sympathetic way or not …

          • After I left my reply, I discovered part of a letter Thomas Merton wrote in which he shared his thoughts on Ayn Rand and her philosophy. Without quoting him (the site won’t allow it without permission), I think it’s fair to say he was pretty harsh in his criticism of Rand. Apparently he considered her views to be both childish and dangerous ~ which is an understatement.

            Based on the ideology of political figures who were shaped by and found support in Rand’s ideas, I’d say Merton’s concerns were well grounded.

            .

            • I think Rand would have been amused or bemused at Merton’s self-flagellation – whether to write or whether to work in the wider world .. Re: others who used Rand to support their base desires, this happens too frequently .. words and writings can so often be misconstrued to serve a groups or an individual’s own purposes ..

              • Susan ~ Thomas Merton’s self-flagellation? Are we talking about the same contemporary author, monk, and peace activist who embraced Buddhist ideas and corresponded with notable figures like Martin Luther King, Jr?

                I think you must be confusing him with Thomas *More*, the self-flagellating ‘saint’ born in 1478.

              • Susan ~ It just occurred to me you might have meant something else. Not sure, though, since Thomas Merton did write and work, and engage with the world up until the very end.

                I do agree though, that Ayn Rand would likely have been amused/bemused by many of his choices. I suspect she would’ve been perplexed by anyone who chose to do anything for any reason other than their own self-interest.

  5. Susan you have again said it all about our dear country…all l can say that if we have no hope…there is nothing else but the grace of our Maker…so l choose hope even if l will be disappointed …
    Thank you for your insite and sharing your fears …my gran had an afrikaans saying…gedeelde smart is halwe smart..
    Which means if you share hearache it becomes less.
    Regards Diana

    • Thanks for coming by Diana … interestingly I was chatting with Kgakgamatso this afternoon and in brief, she says that people she knows in her community are fed up with all the broken promises and that the 2 parties – the ANC & EFF – are crooks – her words and everyone knows it. She said the slogan we’ve all been saying for some tine, Enough is Enough. She was pretty clued up with what’s happening in our country. I was surprised and pleased at her grasp of events. So just maybe the majority is beginning to see the light. May Grace be on yours and our sides – (hopefully you received the paper I sent you via email? I never heard?)

  6. Sometimes ‘HOPE’ of Freedom is hard to find. Trump said he was going to “Make America Great” but instead he has made our country worse with his racism, homophobia, and his being so Narcistic. Our leader’s mindset is setting hatred free instead. I have to avoid the News as it reports such violence, that it makes me sad. Hope for Freedom means to me that we sincerely need a decent leader, but IS there a political figure who really cares about the people? I guess, I can only HOPE!! <3

    • I’ve heard T say about making America great again, Gwynn – it must seem hard to imagine that this will ever happen. But remember, as I do re the ordinary man in the street in my country and yours, that we’re good and decent people and this canNOT go on forever. I know it seems crazy that figures say our countries are improving economically, while the freedom of hatred continues …

  7. I have no idea how to fix what’s wrong anymore. I’m not one to give up but my head is tired of being bashed against a wall. I told my kids the world is officially theirs.

    • It’s also yours and ours Jacqui, our sons and daughters – but I know that sense of being too just bleeding exhausted from it all .. until – we maybe change our own attitude towards it all? And have hope that underneath it all, good prevails?

  8. Another great post Susan, thank you so much for sharing! Re: Hope, I cannot help but think of the wise Greek myth of Pandora and her sealed box. For that “imprisonment of hope” can also be found inside of us until we finally release (free) our individual and/or collective hope when we “search for the hero inside ourselves”. I love offering “hope” in my therapy work and (hopefully) I offer some in my written words too. It’s funny I was just thinking how we often turn over an empty jar … hoping for a little bit more! And when we do that, when we turn ourselves over … its remarkable what strength, courage, kindness and hope we always find inside ourselves when needed. Love and light, Deborah.

    • That is so lovely Deborah thank you – ‘searching for the hero inside ourselves’ – how true that is and then to be released from the ‘imprisonment of hope’ –

      And your posts always give me a frisson of joy and hope – I feel something turning over as I do whenever an event, inner or outer, pings or tings and my blood vessels expand –

      Love and Light to you, Susan

    • Thanks Beth – I may have used Thich Nhat Hanh in a forthcoming post or ‘meant’ to use it as a saved image with words when I was originally looking for images and quotes a few weeks ago. This is also true – as is TS Eliot’s Wastelands’ I think his 4the quartet when he writes about Hope – thank you for the reminder of not missing the present moment 🙂

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