A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9owl wisdom



Janis Joplin: Me & Bobby McGee


Chorus: ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,

Nothing don’t mean nothing if it ain’t free.

And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,

You know feeling good was good enough for me

Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee’

(I’ve put a clip at the bottom if you want to listen to it-it is a shortened version; I hope it works).

So, ‘Freedom’

There’s ‘freedom’ from, ‘freedom’ to, freedom of, fear of ‘freedom’ – and many more no doubt.

Freedom sounds so great and it is great – freedom from bondage and slavery for example. Here in South Africa we fought for political freedom and equality of all races to have the freedom to vote, to inter-marry between races inter alia; we have freedom of expression in myriad forms e.g. art, speech, film-making, mostly in Western countries; we have freedom of choice; we have free will; we have the freedom to marry same sex partners; we try to free ourselves from parental conditioning in our striving for maturity and autonomy and so on …

We’ve fought hard for our freedom. In South Africa, our past president Mr.Nelson Mandela broke the yoke of oppression; there’s Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, Golda Meir, Aung San Suu Kyi, Rosa Parks who defended her right not to go to the back of the bus to mention but a few who risked their lives against oppressive injustice and in the name of freedom.

But, how free are we really, we who accept freedom as our right to express ourselves in any which way, free to make choices, free to do as we see fit, hopefully for the benefit of all?

Freedom from the boundaries of Paradise – and free will – was the great gift bestowed on us when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden; yet paradoxically, freedom has great limitations.

Which is how it should be. Without limits, freedom for the strong means slavery for the poor. Freedom has a partner – responsibility. Which means restraint in our enactment of freedom, to ensure that no-one is harmed intentionally or unintentionally in our utilisation of the gift of free will. And this is where it gets tricky. Many of the decisions that we make are based on motives that are unconscious and not honestly considered, and lead us to making less than ideal choices. 

Erich Fromm posits our ‘fear of freedom’ – when we come to realise that we are each responsible for our own fate, we become afraid ..

How free are we from the forces of the media who say we will feel better if we buy this or that; or this car will win you admirers; or this cream will take years off your face; or this diet will make you lose weight? Too many of us are slaves to the media hype and make decisions based on it. We do NOT make conscious choices. We believe the hype and continue to ‘allow’ the media the freedom to influence our decisions. It makes us dizzy. Are we making the best wide awake choices for our children or are we still sleeping towards enslavement – in the name of freedom.

I like Kierkegaard’s definition of anxiety: ‘the dizziness of freedom’.

41 Comments on F: FREEDOM

  1. Thanks Dan for your response.
    Freedom must surely have its attendant responsibility whether here or there or anywhere! Always, there are consequences.

  2. Another nice, contemplative post. In America freedom is a sensitive subject that can become dizzying. I like your idea of responsible freedom.

  3. What a deep and thought-provoking post. We definitely have to consider where freedom has negative consequences – the freedom to bear arms in the US for example…

    • Thanks Nick for commenting.
      Yes, that freedom to bear arms is a contentious issue indeed – we follow the debate here in South Africa with interest. I know that it is written in your Constitution –

  4. After reading your F post I had to go back and read A through E too. Thank you for such thought provoking, soul searching subjects. After reading your blogs I have had to raise my personal bar.

    • Thanks so much Vicki!
      Please advise – when I click on your name above to get to your site, I am warned that this is a phishing site which I ignored and went to it – it is evidently not a phishing site – but I would like to find you .. I will try again later on in the day.

    • I found you Vicki, this morning – the fairies must have been at play. Have MUCH enjoyed your A-Z posts thank you! Keep them coming …

  5. Beautiful post, Susan! Thought provoking and touching – Love the final quote; “The dizziness of freedom.” See – now you’re going to make me follow you! Ah – bliss!

  6. Susan I had to comment because, while I really did expect to see more freedom posts, I didn’t expect to read one that was so different with so many similarities… When I think of the global fight for freedom, I think mostly of S.Africa. I had a close girlfriend who was born there. Sadly she is now dead, one of her many struggles was dealing with her life experiences during apartheid. It is so important we make wide awake choices.

    Reflex Reactions

    • Hello Ida and thanks for commenting!

      I am sorry your friend is dead – I hope that our awful apartheid system did not pay a part in this?

      Wide awake choices – with an awareness of the consequences, intended or not, upon the other … will we ever get there?

      • I read somewhere it will take a thousand years, so I guess not in our lifetimes, but I am grateful we live in a time where the end/beginning is, at least, in sight.

        • 1000 years? A blink – perhaps we’ll come back re-incarnated. Thanks Ida – a nice thought. We’ll have to add our bit though in whatever way, now.

  7. Thank you Elizabeth for stopping by and commenting. ‘Have we done our part’? Good question, one we each need to ask of ourselves.

  8. Beautifully said, Susan. “Nothing don’t mean nothing if it ain’t free.” I think of all those who fought for freedom so that we may be free – to be able to voice this here and now. It saddens me the sacrifices they made for us and wonder if we have done good by them. Have we done our part?

  9. Does freedom unbalance us so much as to cause the anxiety necessary for growth? We tend to do nothing when we are bathed in comfort. A reminder about why it is hard to be free but how easy to wish for it.

    • Thank you Susan – too true that when we are bathed in comfort that is where we stay – and do nothing.

      Anxiety may be the stimulus indeed to shake us out of our torpor.


  10. Hi,
    You have brought up some serious issues that should shake all of us and make us wake up. It is sad to say but many people are enslaved to the media, to horoscopes and whatever else they think will tell them what lies ahead in the future, or to whomever they can pin the blame on for the consequences for the bad choices in their lives.

    I also love the sentence, Freedom has a partner––responsibility. I believe that should be tagged alongside the word, freedom and maybe it should be a combined compound word like freedom-responsibility, because freedom without responsibility is not freedom.

    I love this article. Great job, Lady.


    • ‘Freedom without responsibility is not freedom’ – a short and sweet summary thank you Patricia.

      And thank you for stopping by.


  11. Great piece on freedom Susan. It is so easy to take freedom for granted, but when we travel to other parts of the world who do not share the freedom we have, we learn a huge lesson. I choose not to take freedom for granted each day. Thanks again for that reminder!


    • Thank you Donna for your comment. It is a shock when we come face to face with lack of freedom in other parts of the world but I still maintain that we as ‘westerners’ are not so free after all –

      Good on you that you don’t take it for granted!

      Grace to you too, thank you.


  12. Of course this word would conjure up an image related to children…of course. Imagine, if you will, the look on their faces as they storm out of the doors at recess time on a windy spring day! Now that’s the look and sound of Freedom! I love your posts. They always flex my brain. Thank you.

    • Thank you Carinna for stopping by and commenting!

      O what a lovely image of children facing ‘FREEDOM’ and the sound and the look of it! A treasured image indeed! Thank YOU!

  13. Excellent points! There’s always that line between the group of people who want to control others, those who want to be controlled, then that last “pesky” group who doesn’t want to control or be controlled. I’m one of the pesky ones. 🙂

    By the way, your Google follow link doesn’t work, and I don’t see any way to follow you on WordPress. I have most of my list automated through follows, and others probably do as well. You may receive more comments if there was an easier way to follow your blog.

    Also, thank you for commenting on my blog! 🙂

    From A to Z, Kristen’s blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

    • Thank you pesky one! Again, in my spam folder ..not nice.
      Thank you for trying to link me – I’ll mention to this my son who lives far away and see if he can advise me on how to rectify this.

    • Thanks Kelly for stopping by and making a comment.

      I checked out your great post and yes there are indeed correlations to yours and mine. If children were taught the value of freedom and its responsibilities we would have such great citizens as you wisely point out.

  14. Yes, at what cost is Freedom. We are ruled by a governmental body that is more interested in taking care of themselves and their own interests than in helping the American people.

    Or, where we have the right to our own opinions and speak them, they can be negative toward others and create discention. Freedom goes with our “right of freewill” as God allowed Adam and Eve. Do we learn from our mistakes? Are we really free? It does make me think. However, at the same time we have the Freedom to be happy and to make choices about our lives… this is where Freedom is valuable.

    Susan, you are excellent at kick-starting my brain into “thinking!” I do so enjoy your posts. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Gwynn! As you say: ‘we are ruled by..’ wouldn’t it be nice if we ‘were served’ in the best sense of the word?

      And when freedoms cross over into others’ space and restricts theirs, dissension will be the outcome. It’s a tricky subject. I barely scratched the surface.

      Thank you again!

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