“The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”

Exodus 16:2

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Exodus 16:2-3

When things go wrong, freedom loses its attraction.

Many thinkers claim that at heart we are ‘slaves’.  Sounds very politically incorrect, I know, but let’s explore this proposition.

There is a certain security in knowing one’s place, the limitations imposed on us from outside. It is secure because such limitation is a trade-off: certain things, certain goods (e.g. a roof over your head; food; a daily routine) are guaranteed by whoever is in charge in return for complying with imposed norms: a work routine, restrictions on movement, required attitudes of deference to authority.  

Before you react violently against this, consider the following: how many released convicts quickly reoffend and get reimprisoned; how many otherwise ‘liberated’ people defer to religious or cultural authorities; how many people imagine that government must solve all problems for them.

Indeed, how many of us are what might be called ‘risk avoidant’?

If we really believed in freedom, surely we would resist every attempt to limit freedom – even if such liberty meant accepting high levels of insecurity? Surely we would be willing to take risks and accept the consequences as a natural outcome of freedom?

Loving God,

Inspire us to face the risk of freedom, and help us at very least to honestly admit to ourselves the limits to freedom we impose on our selves


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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