Man Is Born Free But Everywhere He Is In Chains | for CSS & PMS aspirants


Iqra Ali, a student of Sir Kazim, has attempted the essay “Man Is Born Free, But Everywhere He Is In Chains” on the given pattern, which Sir Syed Kazim Ali teaches his students. Sir Syed Kazim Ali has been Pakistan’s top English writing and CSS, PMS essay and precis coach with the highest success rate of his students. The essay is uploaded to help other competitive aspirants learn and practice essay writing techniques and patterns to qualify for the essay paper.

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  • Freedom is a prerequisite for a peaceful life.
  • By Birth, man is free, but as soon as he reaches his consciousness, he now and again gets blows to his freedom.
  • Since the fetters cannot be broken free, they must be balanced to ensure righteous life.

Historical Background of the axiom: Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.

  • Social Contract Theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Understanding the Concept of Freedom and Slavery

  • Freedom can think, speak, act or react as one wants.
  • Slavery is when one human being is owned by another mentally, physically, or emotionally.

How is the innate freedom of a man compromised?

  • The burden of fulfilling living essentials
  • The lust for high living standards
  • The societal inequalities
  • The passion for patriotism
  • Social, religious, and legal restrictions

What are the impacts of imprisonment on human life?

  • The positive impact of chains
  • Chains of laws preventing man from becoming an offender
  • Chains of spirituality help a man achieve self-realization
  • Chains of relations and friendship beautifying man’s life
  • The negative impacts of chains
  • Chains of struggle robbing a man of his peaceful career
  • Chains of unrighteous nationalism create the fear of war
  • Chains of competition perpetuating evils and chaos in society

How can the ongoing chains be balanced if they cannot be broken free?

  • To encourage the collaborative and coordinating work system
  • To bridge the gap between socioeconomic inequalities
  • To make the people decide on the basis of rationality
  • To promote the inclusive concept of patriotism
  • To strengthen the democratic norms in society
  • To help to form the just and peaceful community
  • To ensure quality education

Critical Analysis

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Freedom- having the power to think, speak, act or react as one wants – is a prerequisite of a peaceful life. There is no denying the fact that man is born free without fetters regardless of class, race, creed, and nation. However, as he initiates his social interaction, he starts feeling shackled in the chains of the dictatorship of his parents, the burdens of his living essentials, the lust of his desires, and the responsibilities of his family and relations. Moreover, his socioeconomic life makes him face the inequalities in daily life, thus plaguing his physical-psychological status. As it is aptly demonstrated in the famous words of Jean-Jacques Rousseau- a philosopher from the time of Enlightenment, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” Although he said that given the circumstances in which people were chained in the kingships of aristocrats and there was an ongoing race to acquire property, the statement fits itself in every era, including the most revolutionized today. All the chains, ultimately, lead a person to be either a civilized man- as the chains of the law, spirituality, and emotional attachments do- or even worse than a beast- as the economic disparities that perpetrate evil instincts in him in the competition with his other Sapien mates. Thus, he always strives for the freedom with which he was sent to this world. So, liberty can only be ensured if measures like encouraging the coordinative and collaborative work system, bridging the gap of socioeconomic inequalities, strengthening democratic norms in society, and providing quality education are adapted at individual and societal levels so that the negative shackles can be broken, and the positives could help to make a community with perpetual peace, growth, and happiness.

Considering the evolution of the hypothesis mentioned above, one must dive into the times of Jean- Jacques Rousseau. He was a Genevan philosopher of the midst of the eighteenth century when the torch of Enlightenment shone firmly, and decadent Parisian elites and stultifying old regime authorities clashed to form an uneasy powder keg of an environment in France during the years preceding the tumultuous French Revolution. He, being an anti-authoritarian and libertarian, put forward his magnum opus- called the social contract theory or the theory of general will- with an immortal opening, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others and remains a greater slave than they.” Thus, to break the constraints of slavery, Rousseau believed in the supremacy of democracy, equality, and freedom. Although the theory was given based on the then circumstances, it is still valid in its full essence that needs updated transformation to be implemented to today’s globalized imprisonment.

In general perspectives, both freedom and slavery mean different for different people. However, from the literature point of view, freedom is defined as the absence of coercion, necessity, or constraint in thoughts, words, actions, or reactions. In other words, it is an opportunity to be what one thinks to be. Contrarily, slavery is the antithesis of freedom, a state of not being free. It means when someone or something owns one’s thoughts, words, emotions, or actions like a property. Hence, where slavery exists, freedom vanishes and vice versa. As it is rightly said by Ernestine Rose, a nineteenth-century pro-suffrage, anti-slavery orator in the United States, “Freedom and Slavery cannot exist together.”

Although a newly born takes his breath as an unrestricted mortal, and his consciousness is free from the thought that he is an enslaved person or free citizen, a prince or penniless, it is compromised as soon as he initiates his social interaction. Certain factors are responsible for his shackled life. First, the burden of fulfilling essentials from a very early age binds the little man. He can do nothing but cry for food and protection. Then, as a child’s consciousness develops, he starts confronting others’ authority over him, from being trained to use the toilet to suppress his cry for unaddressed demands. Likewise, in his youth, when he encounters the public for his livelihood, he, having no other option, has to face all the hurdles in the way of his earnings to survive in this world.

Moving forward, when a person starts grooming, his living standards are raised. As a result, he, in his lust, cages himself in self-made chains. For instance, the daily routine of Mughal rulers used to be fully documented, and every moment of the day was a part of their disciplined schedule. Likewise, in modern times, political leaders and the elite are chained by protocol and restricted movements. These are, in fact, the golden chains, which the rulers happily accepted as a price of their power and authority.

Looking into the life of an ordinary man, his shackles are limited to bringing up his family and keeping cordial relations with his relatives and friends. Although it seems interesting, living from hand to mouth with many responsibilities curtails his freedom. As the elites, on the one hand, having everything in abundance, are tied in the chains of maintaining their status, the socioeconomic disparities, on the other hand, do not let the poor prosper in any field of life. As a result, a poor person has to work harder than others to make ends meet. It not only overburdens him but also hinders his happiness and peace. Compromising all his desires, from enjoying a vacation to getting an opportunity to study abroad, he learns to live in the given circumstances, and his lack becomes an obstacle in the way of his likes and dislikes.

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Apart from personal factors, patriotism also limits man’s freedom. A person gets trapped in the chains of nationalism and jingoism, keeping aside the supremacy of human rights. He is not allowed to indulge in actions against his country’s reputation. Although the chains in the masses of a state build its image in the international arena, they have to compromise on their wants and hopes for this.

“To be proud of one’s country for what it does is to enslave oneself.”

Sydney J. Haris

Likewise, religious, social, and legal bindings are the most prominent chains for man. Because religion is a complete code of life, one may be told that he can do what he wants, but if there are certain things he must do or face eternal punishment from the religious perspective, he is not free to do them. Thus, saying, “You are free to disbelieve; you are free to choose to burn forever,” is nonsense. It is neither a choice nor freedom. The same is the case with social norms and customs. If an individual tries to eliminate these shackles, he is isolated from society. Considering the legal imprisonment, a person is bound to travel, work, or even speak within the limits of the law of the land. Therefore, most people willingly or unwillingly accept these laws and religious and social practices that bind the person so that they cannot release themselves from the relentless grip.

Undoubtedly, as time passes, the chains become so heavy and influential that they impact every second of a person’s life, either positively or negatively. For instance, the chain of laws preventing man from becoming an offender is one of the most constructive outcomes. Without laws, man could be even worse than a beast. Moreover, human society could present the picture of a jungle where the rule of ‘might is right’ prevails. Consequently, fundamental human rights are compromised. Likewise, chains of spirituality help a man achieve self-realization. Religious limitations and the fear of punishment for indulging in morally wrong acts make him a responsible and tamed citizen. Also, self-actualization helps him achieve the most superior position in both worlds, which he is granted with. Above all, the chains of relations and friendship beautify man’s life. Having the responsibilities of parents, spouse, and children, he acts on the dictum “look before leap’. Once a man realizes that he is essential not only as an individual but also an integral part of human society, and he takes any step that can darken or enlighten the life of the people he loves, he thinks sagaciously before moving even a step forward.

On the other hand, the negative impacts of slavery- either physical or mental- are numerous that overpower the positives. As a result, the words like chains, slavery, and imprisonment are always taken negatively. First, the endless struggle to achieve the maximum robs a man of his peaceful career. It is like a mark of horror on the face of the beautiful world, which has been chasing mankind since the stone stage. Second, the chains of unrighteous nationalism create the fear of war. When the passion of patriotism exceeds the limits, it injures the sense of righteousness of nations. Likewise, the chain of jingoism hurts the feelings of other countries. As it is aptly said by Charles De Gaulle, a French army officer and statesman who led Free France against Nazi Germany in World War II, “Patriotism is when the love of your people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” We live in an age of ceaseless competition that perpetuates societal evils and chaos. Since his existence, man has looked more into the plate of others than his own. As a result, he strives to achieve it, either through right or wrong means, which would not only drives him to darkness and many other social evils but also results in the exploitation of the dependent class of society. To sum up, despite reaching the epoch of free speech and expression, man is in shackles everywhere that cannot be broken free in any way.

Nonetheless, balancing the constraints, rather than striving to break them, in a way that the constructive chains are stringed more forcefully and destructive chains are loosened can help form a peaceful world. Although various measures have been taken gradually with time, a lot is yet to be done. In this regard, a competition-free collaborative and coordinating work system must be encouraged because the fierce competition yields oligopolies or monopolies, whereas coordinated interaction fosters productivity and creativity. Further, the gap of socioeconomic inequalities must be bridged. Broadly the global south and particularly the poor of today are being exploited by the global north and the elite, respectively. When the gap is reduced, society will be more inclusive and tranquil. Also, awareness campaigns and seminars must make people aware of what freedom is and what kind of slavery must not be accepted. Various feminist, anti-racist, and equality for all movements are worth mentioning in this respect. All the steps help people reason about the dos and don’ts.

Promoting an inclusive concept of patriotism would also be one of the giant leaps in formulating a peaceful society. Patriotism, although itself is considered a chain to the freedom of mankind, it frees him from many other chains like nationalism, sectarianism, racial discrimination, and extremism, thus, building a productive society. Adding more to it, since freedom of speech is the fundamental right of man, it must be ensured that every man in society can express his thoughts and do what he wants without any constraint. In sum, democratic norms must be strengthened, and a society must be formed where a person considers himself free enough to spend his life according to his whims and wishes and where the representatives are his servants, not masters. It is also the most stressed objective of the general will of Rousseau, who believes a man is born free. But everywhere, he is in chains. Last but not least, quality education must be ensured so that all must have equal knowledge of their rights and duties, and none could be exploited; thus if all the above-mentioned reforms are made under the umbrella of law, a just and peaceful community can be accomplished.

Although it is depicted that, at some points, a man must be shackled so that it might not harm the peace of society, what the concept of liberty remains. If Rousseau has stated, “A man is born free,” he means that the criteria of freedom are being free from the strings of thoughts, care, respect, law, religion, and everything that starts bounding a child as he grows up. Hence, every binding, either constructive or destructive, impedes to the way of free life. As a result, the essence of his words dies. Thus, if, on the one hand, it is an evergreen statement, on the other hand, it does not fit anywhere in its complete form.

A newborn is a free creature when sent to the earth. However, with age, he gets repetitive blows to his personal and societal liberty. Although some chains are integral to tame him as a responsible citizen and form a peaceful society, many are fabricated to satisfy the baseless superstitions of culture, religion, and competition, resulting in the prevalence of chaos in society. Thus, reforms should be made to balance the chains of this imprisoned world. On the one hand, the shackles that help form an ideal society must be made stiff. But, on the other hand, the chains compromising man’s fundamental freedom must be made ineffective. Only then perpetual peace and harmony in the world could be maintained.

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