18 01 2010

Each Martin Luther King Day I find myself excited.

It’s a day for me to contemplate freedom.

What does it mean to be free?

What does it mean for me to be free within the context of the life I have now?

How can I free myself from the trappings of my mind in my beliefs and perceptions that are tainted with wounds from the past?

What qualities must I cultivate and possess as someone who is free?

I have experienced my own specific share of not being free in my life. I have been discriminated against because I am a woman and because I am gay. I have felt ashamed and silenced about things that have happened to me and about who I am.

While this is not anywhere near the level on a global scale that other people in the world go through in terms of not being free, each person’s pain and suffering is relative, so I cannot minimize my own suffering while maximizing others, even though on a basic level I understand that I am not starving or thirsty, and am therefore in a better position to actually access/experience true human freedom.

We must each engage the ways we are not free where we live with what presents itself. We don’t have another life to work with.

Two of my heroes are Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. When I think about what it means to be free, I think of these two people.

Dr. King is my example of the power of well-thought-out passionate words and maintaining one’s dignity in the midst of injustice that could leave one speechless and crazy. You seldom see him without a tie.

Nelson Mandela is my example of the whole often confusing idea of forgiveness. His work with Desmond Tutu on the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa has had a powerful influence on my own life like no other singular idea. You seldom see him without a smile.

In Architecture and in Yoga, there is a saying; “Form brings freedom.”

When I think about King and Mandela, I see in them a one-pointed focus as to what their lives were about. They kept their eyes on the ball and on the prize. They embodied in speech and action the very principles they believed would set millions of people free.

Freedom is a natural human proclivity. All of us want to be free. We all know people who are willing to give their life so that others can be free.

There is a discipline to freedom. Of staying with the thing until the rock moves. Of not giving up, remaining as best as we can, open-hearted and present in the face of injustice. Of continuing to work with ourselves and others in a way that serves the greater good.

As King and Mandela know, freedom is not a singular thing. We are interconnected.

No one is free until all are free.

May it begin with me and my life. May I free myself so that others may be free.




5 responses

18 01 2010

This is so lovely. Thank you.

18 01 2010
Kate T.W.

This is inspiring, and reminds me of the lyrics of one of my favorite songs by Bob Marley, Redemption Song, ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…’

19 01 2010

This is beautiful. I was just today also discussing the traits that make MLK, Jr. and Mandela so remarkable. Their capacity to forgive leaves me breathless. And I could discuss the intricacies of freedom for hours. I lived in Eastern Europe shortly after the Wall came down; I gained an entirely different perspective of freedom from the one I’d learned as a woman growing up in post-60s America.

Thank you so much for engaging in this topic. It is worthy of many more conversations, and worthy of remembering to honor and pursue every day. Neither MLK, Jr. nor Mandela needed a holiday to expand the concept of freedom. I intend to follow their lead, as I know you do too.

19 01 2010

Thank you for yet another profound contemplation.

19 01 2010

Thank you for such an inspiring post, Bindu. Two beautiful men.

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