Pathway to True Freedom – An Emancipation Day Reflection

“The time has come for those of us who have a vision of the future to inspire our people to a closer kinship, to a closer love of SELF, because it is through this appreciation of SELF will we be able to rise to that higher life … into one MIGHTY bond that we can successfully pilot our way through the avenues of opposition and the oceans of difficulties that seem to confront us.”


Like Marcus, this Marcus believes that our true and full emancipation comes when we learn how to build authentic relationships with SELF and in community!! I was not pursuing this ideology. I happened upon it, as I did the quote from Marcus Garvey, which I used earlier in this post. Garvey sort of confirmed to me, my own journey toward personal freedom and a sense of fulfillment that I have discovered by truly discovering and loving myself and my vocation as a community development practitioner, teacher and preacher in building community.

Self knowledge and love is a constant evolution. It is not a one time event or a destination that you arrive at. as long as there is breath in our bodies, we are constantly becoming or dying. On this journey of self discovery and love, there are THREE fundamental questions that I ask myself:

1. Who am I? (What are my core beliefs and values that I live by). These are the values and beliefs that we hold when we are not seeking approval. It is not about your positions, titles or the different roles you play. It is understanding your own essence and character.

2. How am I? (How am I doing emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically and intellectually? Have I been committed to ensuring growth and wellness of myself or have I abandoned myself for the approval of others?)

3. Am I living my purpose? (What is that thing that I was created for. Usually, we know through our passion. But very often, purpose is shaped by the painful experiences of life. We are formed through pressure and quite often the load of pain we are given to carry is our life’s assignment when we have relieved ourselves of that load – to help others get over!


I do not this that this knowledge and love of self can be fully formed without building authentic relationships in community. We become our full potential in relationships. This is the belief that has guided my own work in communities and advancing a methodology of participation (affirming the community’s intelligence, resourcefulness and worth in finding solutions to their own problems and adding value). It is EASY to blame community people for all the ills that happen but yet we do not believe that they have equal role to play in the process of their own healing. There is a particular kind of (default) suspicion and blame that is placed on the poor (in particular) that is beyond vulgar. After all, poverty = crime! This suspicion keeps them at the margins. Building communities is more than just doing a work over there with those people. It is about doing the work among ourselves to bring us all together because together we are stronger than if we are still divided into uptown and downtown, urban and country, rich and poor.

Building that social cohesion liberates ALL of us from the restrictions of classism, elitism and all of the isms that society that created to divide. Building social cohesion is is where real freedom lies because it acknowledges that we are members of the human family and in that oneness we have the freedom and the support to become ALL that we are meant to be. I have maintained that community participation is critical to many of our issues. The blaming and stereotyping really do not work. Many have been calling for drastic measure (usually punishment) but what we need is citizens’ participation. Participation and inclusion are how we engender community.


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