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Essay on “Freedom is the birth-right of man” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

 

Freedom is the birth-right of man

“MAN IS BORN FREE BUT EVERY WHERE HE IS IN CHAINS”

Freedom is the birth right of man. Life is reduced to a meaningless drift towards and end if man does not enjoy freedom. Freedom of speech helps in the development of the personality of man, his ideologies are trimmed into a shape, his ideas have a better flowering. Till a person speaks out his mind his thinking remains choked; appreciation of his point of view encourage him to think whereas opposition sharpens intellect and consolidates correct thinking. Community life demands an exchange of views or sharing of grief – “Where people sit and hear each other’s groan” – and joys. If society is to adopt a democratic set up, everyone should be allowed to express his point of view. Similarly freedom to act, move and associate gives not only psychological satisfaction by satisfying his personal ego but also a sense of individuality. Man unconsciously or consciously merges his personal self with the social self but even this is goaded by the desire to be secure. It is quite clear that freedom does not mean licence, it cannot encroach and should not encroach upon the freedom of others. Sacrifices will have to be made for the society as a whole. Man, while living in society, does not ignore his selfish interests though in the larger interests he has to subordinate those interests. In fact rights imply duties and freedom for social being is limited by the interests of others. Absence of freedom makes one to consider oneself nothing more than dumb driven cattle and loses the power to think and act.

Despite this, man is in chains. One of the political thinkers points out that the very existence of state is the negation of liberty. Laws bind man and some of them confer no positive right. `Keep to the left’ is a traffic rule which is observed because it is a matter of convenience; Hindu Marriage Act is the recognition of an established custom of society. These and many other laws, place curbs on activities, which do not encroach upon the freedom of others. The governments make use of emergency laws to stifle freedom. They can declare emergency whenever there is war or threat of war whereas the latter always persists in this age of tension. In a state of emergency in India even fundamental rights can be suspended. How can we say that governments can guard the freedom of the individuals? The minds of the people are stuffed with the views of the party in power. Marx correctly said that the prevailing ideas are the ideas of the ruling class. When a particular philosophy is hammered into the brains, it becomes convenient for the people to adopt it and suspend their original thinking. Distorted news, suppressed facts and prejudiced opinions leave no scope, for the people at large, to utilise their own power to think. Is it possible to enjoy freedom of speech when we do not have conditions which may permit its proper exercise? Otherwise also, we cannot come to a final point of view till all the facts, in their stark nakedness, are  not available to us. But no government or authority, howsoever democratic it may be, can afford to present facts in their proper perspective. They mislead the people in order to keep themselves in power. Freedom under such circumstances becomes almost meaningless, and hollow though it may have a sweet ring about it.

Even the freedom to move and associate has no real significance in democratic countries. Every ruling party has its own ideology and, unfortunately, that is considered to be the only recipe for the prevalent ills in that society. It is no exaggeration if we say that the whole super-structure of political and social life centres round those ideologies and party which propagates them sticks to them fanatically. This is a subtle way of making people intellectual slaves. Opposition to these ideologies is branded treason and anti-national activity. Under such circumstances no person is allowed to have nay alliance with the other camp. A capitalist in a communist country cannot be tolerated and a theocrat in a secular state is an outcaste. Evidently political affiliations have to be selective and are determined by the ideologies of the ruling party. Freedom to associate and move cannot be sans bounds. It is always limited and people are chained down to the political manifestoes even if they are just catchy and nothing more.

If we give a bit more comprehensive interpretation of Rousseau’s quotation, we can say that the trammels of social decency and social laws including customs and conventions never allow man to feel free. By nature man is conservative, he cannot adapt himself to sweeping social changes. Consequently it becomes obligatory, on the part of the people, to remain within the boundaries of customs. This does not mean that society remains static and the social values and habits never undergo any change. There are changes, but so slow and imperceptible that they weave themselves into a pattern of life and thinking. A revolutionary social change leaves a trail of anti-revolutionary forces; after the French revolution anti –democratic forces became too strong to be subdued. So it is a natural tendency of man to adopt the beaten path and respect the time-honoured ways. These are the chains whose bite we do not feel but they do pin us down whenever we try to break them.

In the world of materialism material wealth is not only the determinant of social status but also the means to survive. Everyone is out to adjust his scarce means with unlimited demands. Otherwise also it may be a struggle for supremacy or a struggle for survival it essentially remains a struggle. So man has to give priority to economic gains and in this process sacrifices many social obligations. His actions become abnormal, his thinking corrupt and his interests selfish when a person is after economic gains. The saying “for a hungry man food is God” implies that he can sacrifice everything – decency, generosity, honesty, fellow feeling, etc. – for the sake of food. Galsworthy’s Skin Game illustrates the degeneration to which man sinks while pursuing material gains. It does not mean the economic  chains tie us down to this level but they so monopolise our consciousness that we do not think of anything else. If we view it from another point of view we can say surplus wealth gives the means to develop and demonstrate better qualities of human beings. A labourer who earns his bread by laboring throughout the day cannot to attend an ailing friend unless he is prepared to go without meals. A poor man cannot be charitable to a beggar because he himself is reduced to greater poverty. There are exceptions but exceptions prove the rule. We take a job by paying least attention to any other thing except economic gains; we ignore our natural bent of mind, we forget about our suitability for it. We are so fettered by economic considerations that we can enjoy no freedom.

Fatalists consider man a puppet in the hands of fate. It plays with human beings as a cat plays with a mouse before killing it. Despite man’s best efforts to escape, the hounds of fate hunt him down. Hardy, the 19th century novelist of England, held that man’s hopes are perpetually frustrated and his ambitions are continually cheated; man discovers no purpose in life because some impersonal forces are doggedly working against the interests of man. It assumes a tangible shape of fate when it interferes with the working of man’s life. Hardy gives greater credit to one of the agencies of fate that is chance in destroying the happiness of human beings. When the wheels of fortune work, according to their own laws and own scheme, how can man remain free? Whatever man proposes God in His turn disposes. So the activities and achievements of man are limited by inexorable fate.

Similarly laws of Nature bind human beings to a great extent. Science has tremendously advanced but due to slow process of change which evolution is bringing about, the natural calamities like earthquakes scourges and dangerous diseases are still ravaging mankind. Transplantation of heart, plastic surgery and many other advances in medical science stop short of the Nature’s decisive influence on man. Nature binds man to its laws and never allows him to have his own way.

We have given a wider interpretation to Rousseau’s words-man is born free but every where he is in chains-by taking an overall view of man’s relations with man, god and Nature, though he wanted to apply it to social and political life only. Rousseau, the moving spirit behind the French Revolution and the man who gave the clarion call of ‘Return to Nature’ made this observation when he found Louis crushing the liberty of man. His concept of ‘noble savage’ places greater emphasis on the essential nobility of human nature. For him chains would destroy the goodness of man because his personality would not develop. There was a time when the State was looked upon as a necessary evil and its interference in non-political affairs was regarded as illegitimate. But with the spread of Hegelian and Marxian concepts even democratic states began to have incursions into the domains of private individual liberty. Today all the states shape or influence economic, social and educational policies. Individual rights and scope of individual’s creative activity are increasingly narrowed down. At one or the other stage man will regain his freedom in order to restore the lost dignity but that is possible only if man works on the constructive lines. But none can deny that “freedom is necessarily a degree of personal choice within an accepted social framework with varying orders of constraints.”

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