Wednesday, 15 December 2010

They'll Call Me Freedom

There are certain songs that somehow have a way of touching my heart and then I tend to want to write about them. I wrote an article like this last year on the song "Where is the Love?" and you can read that first if you so wish. Lately, the song that I've really been pondering is Wavin' Flag by K'naan. There has been different mixes of this song for the World Cup, but I'm talking about the original album version, which you can listen to in the previous link. And yes, I encourage you to listen to the song before you read this post.

Every time I hear this song, I can't help but feel that it was written out of experience. When I looked K'naan up, sure enough, he grew up in Somali during the Somali Civil War before he later moved to a Somali community in Toronto with his family. Although I couldn't find any solid information as to the story behind the song, I believe it is deeply rooted in personal experience.

The song starts off with the following lyrics:

"When I get older, I will be stronger
They'll call me freedom, just like a wavin' flag."

Right off, you catch sight of a dream. The dream of a child longing for strength and freedom. Somehow I can imagine a boy watching a flag blowing in the wind and longing to be free like it. He knows there's more in the world than his present state of weakness and longs for it. He has even put a new name to himself: Freedom.

"Born to a throne, stronger than Rome
A violent prone, poor people zone
But it's my home, all I have known
Where I got grown, streets we would roam

Out of the darkness, I came the farthest
Among the hardest survival
Learn from these streets, it can be bleak
Accept no defeat, surrender, retreat

So we're struggling, fighting to eat
And we're wondering when we'll be free
So we patiently wait for that faithful day
It's not far away, but for now we say"

What I absolutely love about this song is that even in the midst of their poverty and oppression, they're still holding on to hope. There's no indication that they're giving up or resigning themselves to this idea that this is the way life will always be for them. They know that freedom is possible. There are other songs that open to us the reality of suffering like James Blunt's "No Bravery" but they don't all offer hope like this one does. What is their hope? I believe to some extent, we are. We can help give them that freedom if we so choose.

"So many wars, settling scores
Bringing us promises, leaving us poor
I hear them say "Love is the way"
"Love is the answer," that's what they say

But look how they treat us, make us believers
We fight their battles, then they deceive us
Try to control us, they couldn't hold us
'Cause we just move forward like Buffalo Soldiers."

In our comfortable North American society, we are pretty sheltered from the bondage so many people find themselves in. They live in poverty, are forced to fight in wars, struggle to eat to stay alive, fighting disease and so forth. Many of these stark realities don't make it to the top of Yahoo News. That spot is saved for the latest article of how bad a celebrity looked in the dress she wore to an event. When we do hear of these things though, we try to shut them out because it's quite uncomfortable.

The fact is, suffering is real and as Christians, we can't sit back and do nothing about it. I'm not even going to pretend to be the right person to talk about this issue. I don't know how to end the suffering in this world and thinking about it isn't going to do a thing. The further I go in life though, the more I know that I need to do something.

Sometimes I think I need to go somewhere else to make a difference. That simply isn't true. There are people that are going out that need our support in the form of prayers, finances and practical aid. In America, we can so easily waste so much money without a second thought. But add up some of those small expenditures and you will be surprised how much you're really spending.

In October I started a budgeting plan and began to record every dollar I spent. Yes, I wrote down every coffee, smoothie and pastry purchased as well as money spent eating out. In October, I spent about $43.00 on eating out and snack food combined. Close to $25 was spent on recreation. In November, I again spent close to $40 on snack food and eating out.

Now if you go to Thirst Relief, you discover that a donation of $5 can provide a long-term clean drinking water solution for one person. That means that because of your donation, somebody (likely a child) in a third-world country doesn't have to die because of a contaminated water related disease. I know that one life doesn't sound like much, but what if I take those $40 I carelessly spent over the course of a month and donated it for a year, I would have saved $480 and in turn impacted nearly 100 lives.

Now, $40 does sound like a lot of money, but say you only donated $10 a month. You have still saved 24 lives for just a small sacrifice. So what if you don't get your Timmies coffee, fancy Starbucks drink or go to see every latest movie? You can make that coffee at home for like 5 or 10 cents and rent the movie later for cheaper. The fact is, you have helped someone else in desperate need.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is my disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." (ESV)

I may not be able to put an end to the suffering described in "Wavin' Flag." I may not be able to end modern-day slavery, feed every hungry child or care for every orphan. But by small sacrifices, that really aren't sacrifices at all, I can make a difference in the life of someone else. And if I can encourage others to do the same, we can multiply that impact.

"When I get older, I will be stronger
They'll call me freedom, just like a wavin' flag."

Let's go give somebody back their freedom!


  1. Wow Margaret, you have an incredible heart and a gift of communication to share it. We are so blessed by your partnership and look forward to seeing how many lives we can help save together.

    God bless you.

    Jim Davis-HIcks
    Founder and President
    Thirst Relief International

  2. Thanks Jim. I was happy when I finally discovered something practical I could do to make a difference right where I am.

  3. Hey. I just found your blog from a post you put up on the Rebelution blog. I hope you'll check out mine as well at:

    In Christ,