Latasinha’s Weblog

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“Born free, but everywhere in chains”

 

A human being is born free and desires to lead a free life. But in the real life while living with other fellow beings, (s)he finds himself “everywhere in chains”. How and why? Reason is very simple.

As famous greek philosopher Aristotle says, “A human being is a social animal. If he does not live with men or amongst men, then surely either he is god or a beast.” While living within a society, no one can always act on free will for one’s own liberties/rights/needs/conveniences without giving due consideration to the necessities of his/her fellow-beings and it puts bindings on his free will at every step. One’s rights/liberties become others duties/bindings and vise-versa.

Based on experiences, traditions and customs, every society sets a code of conduct for its members, defines rights and duties of all the sections of society. It not only regulates behavior of individuals within the community, but also provides practical and useful vision/guidelines to be followed by its members everywhere, be it their personal, family, community, social, professional, national or universal life.

A civilized society needs to have a balanced outlook towards rights and duties, which is a difficult job to do. Whereas, Western societies have grown around the idea of ‘rights’ forming the natural foundation of human relationship, eastern societies evolved around the concept of “duty”. Both the systems leaves something more to be desired. Too much importance to rights though gives more opportunities to enjoy life, but it tends to make individuals selfish, arrogant and unmindful of others conveniences. Advanced nations have created systems to keep a check on arbitrary behavior of people.

More stress on duties tends to make people too humble, tolerant and submissive even to raise their voice against excesses and trains people in obedience without questioning. According to the tradition and culture of India, doctrines of Dharma and Karma define rights and duties of different sections of society. Common men in India regard doctrines of Dharma and Karma as norms and values of good conduct applicable to everyone teaching individuals path of righteousness and their relationship with each other. It gives to people an abiding sense of purpose to life, an aim to be actively striven for, cutting across class distinctions and regional boundaries, bridging the distance between rural and urban folk and between the illiterate and educated.

In ancient India, sacrifice was regarded far more important than success and renunciation as the crowning achievement. Stress on duties combined with the principle of inter dependence ensured social harmony and prevented rivalries and jealousies between different sections of society. It helped the people to adjust themselves and adapt themselves slowly but steadily to changing times without much difficulty in the past. The system worked so well that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. It had prevented people to exercise coercion against its working class, whereas in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip, ancient India remained peaceful and ensured social harmony. Also, while other nations passed through many bloody revolutions in the past, India kept on adapting itself to changing times.

Therefore, it is necessary to have a fine and balanced tuning between rights and duties

  • to prevent chaos, stops arbitrary use of liberties by people,

  • develops systems of checks and balances,

  • have automatic de-centralization of control systems and authority.

A balanced approach towards rights and duties and clear-cut vision of liberties and responsibilities is sure to create a matured and civilized society.

 

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December 23, 2009 - Posted by | Social and political values and systems |

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