You Are Born Free

Photo Credit: Skeeze from Pixaby

Dateline: El Raval, Barcelona, Spain

What is freedom worth to you?

A baby is delivered into the world after hours or days of intense, inexplicable and excruciating pain borne by a woman. As the foetus is pushed out through the birth canal, its advent is heralded by a cry; that cry that every parent looks forward to because it is a sign of life. It’s the miracle of birth. The baby is wrapped in a cloth and handed over to the mother freely. That’s it. Think about this for a minute. Let it sink in.

There are no chains around the neck or ankle. There’s no paraphernalia. Nature, having fostered and primed the foetus for nine months, freely delivers it to the world. The baby ideally is here to achieve the greatest and highest expression of his/herself as a human being. Inbuilt are the talents that enable him/her take up an assignment or assignments in service to humanity. Then life happens. The story from here, always never goes as it should

I met Maria (name changed) through a mutual friend. It was a Saturday. We had planned to grab lunch in town. On arriving at the restaurant, the queue was awfully long. Discouraged, we took a stroll in the neighborhood to find an alternative. The mutual friend Brian (name changed) shepherded us to a vegetarian restaurant. We joined the queue, a shorter one this time. Before Maria and I knew it was vegetarian food, it was a bit late to pull out.

We were finally steered to a table in a nice corner. The place was bursting to the seams with a congenial atmosphere and really lovely waiters. Sooner than later, we were swooning with delight over the scrumptious food.

As the cutleries went to work, Maria kept us engaged with the story of her life. Her parents are originally from Morocco and had migrated to France many years ago. Morocco, a Muslim country in North Africa, used to be a colony of France. As is common, some people from former colonies normally emigrate to the West in search of better life.

Maria was therefore born in France. She tells us that she never made efforts to connect with her roots, despite the constant urging of her parents. Africa felt like a distant place. Becoming a grown woman changed that. She had moved to Spain for work. After living there for some years, she became intrigued by her ancestry. It was time to explore her roots. She found a job as a French teacher in Morocco, packed her bags, boarded a flight and landed in Africa like Edie Murphy’s “Coming to America” the reverse way.

The only thing is, Maria wasn’t quite prepared for the culture shock. As a party going, alcohol drinking, unveiled Muslim woman bearing an English name, she didn’t fit the perfect image. As much as she was fascinated by the place, she was scratching her head to understand the restrictions.

Maria was too uninhibited by Moroccan standards. Simply put, she was accustomed to the Western way of life. But as Nigerians would say ‘man must survive’. Determined to stay, she found ways to adapt.

Her experience is thought provoking. Maria recalls sitting at the bar with a bottle of beer in one of the few places that serve alcohol to foreigners. She noticed an altercation between the waiter and a client because the former refused to serve a second bottle of beer to the latter on grounds that he was Moroccan. Talk about religious police!

In order to live as she wishes in Morocco, Maria alternates between a Spanish and French identity, meaning that she pretends to be Spanish in some areas and French in other parts of the country. In doing this, she erases her Moroccan ancestry completely to avoid questions. That way, no religious or cultural demands are made of her. What a world!

I probed further on why she would take on that level of disguise. What if, in a moment of forgetfulness, she mistakenly reveals her true identity? “Why can’t I be myself? You are born free,” she said. I concurred instantly. We are indeed all born free until society forces us into the system. We are socialized to “fit in,” which is a mode of control.

Maria’s story reminded me of my childhood. My parents went to many churches, taking the children along with them. When I went to university, I experimented with a few. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s obvious to me that a lot of the rules are simply created by man. Sometimes, it has little or nothing to do with spirituality.

Some rules were extreme in some denominations. For instance, members were asked not to watch television while women were prevented from wearing jewelry, make-up, trouser, short sleeve tops and perming their hair.

This story potentially has many angles or perspectives that can’t be successfully explored in one blog piece. Whether in a religious or non-religious context, why do we have to be shackled by things that are of secondary importance? My instincts tell me that judgment day will be characterized by surprises of epic proportions, that is, if you believe in life after death. 

I used to trust everything I was told without question. Not any more. I now realize that life is not black and white. The authorities, powers that be or so-called leaders always have an agenda. It’s left to us to determine whether we follow or not. My mantra is: use your common sense. It’s given to us for a reason.

What are your thoughts on being born free? Enjoy!

14 comments

  1. You are very correct. We are all born free and that is why I always take a second thought/look at any information I come across irrespective of who is passing or passed it because I discovered that there are always self anointed people/leaders whether in politics,religion, races,tribes or cultures etc whose only agenda is to twist information to confuse and control people for their selfish benefits while they themselves don’t keep to the rules they propagate. Many like Hitler and others have caused blooding wars only for people to realise midway that there was really no cogent reason to start the war in the first place. Many are racists,tribalists, religious fanatics or drawbacks today because of having accepted one singular wrong presentation of facts in the past by these information twisters.
    We need to even review all the information our parents and cultures passed to us before we became adults because most of them are also inherited twisted information and dogmas. We need to test theories and hypothesis ourselves to ascertain the truism in the them.
    In fact, we need to be very careful because these information twisters are everywhere today propagating their falsehood while they retire to their homes to do the opposite.
    I quite agree with you. We are born free and need to use our common sense to forge on correctly in life,so that we don’t live in polished prisons built by information twisters all the days of our lives.

  2. I can relate to this. I was born and raised in a relatively big town. So, I was a happy go-lucky, free ,outspoken young lady. my dress code was generally casual-decent by principle, by upbringing, by religion. I was your typical city girl. Relatively free to move around and get home late(6.30pm latest!) And outspoken.

    But whenever I went to the village,that would change drastically upon arrival. I would convert and become a village girl. I knew my place. Especially in the kitchen, my chores varied from fetching water from the river, pounding maize, cooking. Etc.but i was no longer outspoken or free willed, there was strict hierarchy, everyone that was older than you had authority above you.I would wear my clothes with an extra wrapping around my waist that reached my feet.Loitering was out of the question. And speaking to a boy in public would earn you the title of being too worldly and most probably loose and ill-mannered. It was another form of mental colonisation.
    I assume things have changed now. Ladies now wear tight trousers that seem to snuff out the very life out of the wearers organs. So thats improvement…😅

  3. I agree with all 3 above. For someone educated and of some intelligence I can’t believe how I let myself be naively taken in by religious leaders. One big example was to swallow the idea that you’re not obeying God if you don’t pay 10% of your salary BEFORE TAX to the church. For years I swallowed this teaching before spending some more years struggling with the question of does God want me to give to the church or meet the needs of people I know and care about and Christian charities I am interested in. Now I prayerfully give within my sphere of influence. That leaves lots of questions like if I’m part of a church that has a full-time pastor/staff and a building to maintain surely if I’m part of it I should contribute to their upkeep? Was it Gods will that they should be full-time or did a building costing milliond need to be built? Questions that wont be answered and just hang in the air. Pentecostal churches that demand 10% to be a member I wouldn’t join. I know Christians who have turned their backs on 10% churches and prefer the national churches or such as the baptists who don’t push 10% tything. Now I feel liberated from such things and give as I feel led. Common sense for me has returned and is for me God’s freedom to chose.

  4. That we are born free is relative! There is no absolute freedom and every society has mores, norms and ethos that regulate human conduct. It is therefore in the enlightened self interest of every society or indeed any human organisation to do a reality check in order to still be relevant at every stage of their existence. Just as we strive to learn new things, there are also things that must be unlearned. Old habits die hard they say!

    Our diversity is the tonic that makes the world interesting. The differences in culture, religion, language, race,gender, food and what have you are the things that drive conversation and give meaning to our humanity. Incidentally, they impose restrictions that tend to limit our freedom either for good or bad. That’s why it is said if you’re in Rome, behave like the Romans. For me, pragmatism is the watch word and I also prefer proper sense to common sense. Lol.

  5. Felix, I dont get the meaning of proper sense. Proper suggests an innate morality but what your saying is suggesting an amoral existence (unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something) using words and phrases such as norms, ethos, enlightened self-interest, reality check, relevant, diversity is the tonic…… is your “interesting world” a moral or amoral one? I’m really not getting it.

  6. Ian, to some it is amoral. That is, it raises no ethical questions hence the question of right or wrong does not arise. To others, it is a moral world where ethical questions are raised. It all depends on your persuasion.

  7. Felix, I get your point that freedom is relative. We want to avoid complete chaos in society, right? But it can also get to the extreme, which truly stifles the human being. “Pragmatism, “Common sense”, no much difference!

  8. We’re born free, yet not free! For us to be free, we have certain rights, obligations, etc to keep. Freedom entails many things;choosing from the fears of now and going for the possibilities that looks unseen, stretching more in our advocacy for good leadership in our social, religious institutions, are all pointers to our call and yearning for freedom.

  9. Freedom from abuse of our human rights, and collective conscience as a people bewildered by inept leadership. For us to be free, we must ask questions to the why and how society has built restraints on certain issues. This curiosity, above anything else, shall set us free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *