Sunday, 9 November 2008

WORLD FREEDOM DAY


On 9 November 1989, that intractable symbol of oppression and division, the Berlin Wall, was brought down without violence or bloodshed. It was a catalytic event that paved the way for freedom in other parts of the world (South Africa included), and for the birth of an entirely new world view.
In 2001, 9 November was declared World Freedom Day in commemoration of this event, and is now celebrated across the world by releasing white balloons and wearing white ribbons as symbols of peace and freedom. On this day, we take the opportunity to honour those in Berlin - and in other conflicts at other times - who helped to secure freedom and liberty for themselves, their fellow humans beings, and future generations.
It was Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi who said: "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers - and for a time they can seem invincible - but in the end they always fail. Think of it - always."
Now, in a world too interconnected and too fragile for violent conflict and divisive beliefs not to impact on everyone in some way, I use this day every year to re-dedicate myself to those things I hold most valuable: freedom, peace, non-violence, unity in diversity, unqualified compassion, respect for and harmony with the natural world, religious and spiritual tolerance, economic and gender equality, universal justice, simple abundance, fair trade, and the love and comfort of friends, family and community.
I believe the intrinsic value of these things to be self-evident and hope that, despite my own frailties and failings, they will always be the filter through which I see the world and the platform off which I launch my actions.

For an overview of Gandhi's work, and an insight into his thoughts on non-violence, peace and unity, read The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, edited by Raghavan Narasimhan Iyer.
This balanced selection of Gandhi's writings, taken from his letters, articles, and books, represents the complete cross-section of his thought, from his early years as a young barrister in London, to his final days as sage and counsel to the newly-independent India.

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