Hope for Freedom’s Ring

The Salvadoran theologian Ignacio Ellacuría writes, “The goal of liberation is full freedom, in which full and right relationships are possible, among people and between them and God.”[1] This emphasis on liberation as freedom was the core of Martin Luther King Jr.’s message, as expressed in his famous 1963 speech:

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”[2]

Freedom, of course, is likewise a tricky proposition and an imprecise term. King defined freedom as composed of three elements.[3] First, freedom is “the capacity to deliberate or weigh alternatives.” Second, freedom “expresses itself in decision.” A decision makes a choice, cutting off an alternative for the preference of the chosen path. Third, freedom involves responsibility, the ability to respond to why a choice was made, and the responsibility to respond as no one else can speak for that free person. These elements shape a wonderful ideal of freedom. We like the idea of it, the pursuit of it for others, and we definitely like our experience of it. Freedom as a lived reality is much more complicated.

[1] Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Ellacuría: Essays on History, Liberation, and Salvation, ed. Michael E. Lee (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2013), 244.
[2] Martin Luther King, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James M. Washington (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 220.
[3] See Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Ethical Demands for Integration,” in Testament of Hope, 119-120.

excerpt from Hope for the Oppressor: Discovering Freedom through Transformative Community.  Sadly, this book was given an academic textbook pricing. Ask your library to buy a copy for your us, request a review or an exam copy from Rowman & Littlefield, and let them know you’d like a paperback version at a reasonable cost.

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