No One Wants to Be Free

In Opinion, Reaching A Higher Level by Marelise Prinsloo Jacob

Jean-Francois Lyotard changed world thinking by introducing two new concepts to modern thought. He said the world, and the people living in it, experiences the world through “Grand” and “little” narratives.

Christianity is a grand narrative, so is Marxism – great big concepts trying to provide a framework for everything. But people are not the same, a Christian in Afghanistan experiences life differently than a Christian in sunny California. These different experiences are little narratives, since everyone has a different background, country, family and mind.

Freedom is a grand narrative. It is a big word, inspiring and wonderful, but mostly, like all grand narrative, it is just an illusion. What does freedom mean anyway


The luxury of being financially independent, owning a big sports car to take you to new places anytime you want? But then you lose your job, and the bank takes your fancy BMW. You were never really free then, were you?

Perhaps freedom is to vote for a political party without fear, to live in a democratic society with a free press and a fair judicial system. But leaders falter and ministers are corrupt, you lose faith in the government and you wonder where your country is headed.

I remember when I was nine years old, Nelson Mandela was set free and we all saw it on television. Apartheid was over, the people were finally free. But they are still poor; they are still dependant on a government they cannot trust, even though now it is a different government. People are complaining, they thought things were going to change.

Disabled people are not free. Unlike black and coloured people, even woman, we do not have a Nelson Mandela, a Martin Luther King Jnr or the Suffragettes to fight for our cause.

Ours is a prison far greater than Robben Island could ever have been, we are trapped inside the minds of people. We are not a race, we are not a gender, we are the grateful naïve, the poor souls unable to help themselves, we are those who are to be pitied. You cannot escape such a prison.

For me, freedom is a farce; you can only be as free as the ones around you allow you to be. The only freedom I have exists in my own mind; my thoughts are not governed by others.

Perhaps one day when the disabled appears in public like everyone else, when they occupy high-powered positions and do what they wish without question or ridicule, or sympathetic looks, I will change my opinion and my mind.

In reality, most people don’t want to be free anyway; they just want to be comfortable. Freedom is too much of a responsibility, people like a sense of order, and order means someone else is in charge.

I will live my life, and I will live it comfortably, one day the disabled will be free and the past will become just a bad memory.