Saturday, December 15, 2012

HUMAN EMANCIPATION: Its need throughout History

Pooja Sathyanarayanan
III. B. Sc Psychology
JBAS College for Women

(This entry secured 3rd place in the Article Writing contest held as a part of SocioFest LIBERATE'12 of Department of Sociology, Loyola College.)

The minute I was born into this world, the first few breaths of hospital air choked and relieved me at the same time. There was silence around till I began to wail… and then, finally, once my cries were heard, celebration.

Welcome to this world.

Throughout our lives, we are at a constant struggle as societies, institutions, governments and social norms both bind us and grant us relief at the same time. They help us navigate through various pathways of life while at the same time, they stifle us… until we are forced to see what they see.

It’s true… as long as we are indeed human and social (beings), we will unite and as long as resources are scarce, there will be conflict; with the existence of regulating bodies and norms to make sense of it.

As long as we are human and social beings, we will be bound by both frivolity and stringency. There will be the rule setters and the rule breakers. There will be social constructs which bind us and more importantly, the ever present need to break free from the ties that bind us (or in some cases, shackle us).

In the history of human emancipation, it seems like the need for emancipation has been mostly focused; based its historical context.

The bourgeois-emancipatory movement, according to Marx, ended with the objective of political liberation alone. The American Civil War, on the other hand, vividly stands out as a cause for human emancipation; with the African American slaves being literally bound to their owners. Which was why January 1st, 1963 was a date to remember when the Emancipation Proclamation guaranteed emancipation of slaves; who were free forever.

What more, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of complete racial harmony is almost a reality now. Instances of racial conflict are few and far between.

Emancipation of women, on the other hand, has had a longer history and is still a struggle in many parts of the globe. There are invisible divides and stereotypes that still exist in the workplace and other realms. Women are still being discriminated against and denied basic rights in many underdeveloped and developed countries. Yet, for the most part, traditionally patriarchal societies are transforming though the true nature of the “feminist” movement (and if feminism = equality) is rightfully being debated.

Gay and lesbian liberation has also been seen as “central to the broader project of human emancipation”. It is definitely indicative of emancipation from oppression, of subjugation as homosexuals as “sexual subversives”; as termed by the Nazis.

The youth, the future of India, have also made their voices heard as they seek emancipation from corruption, for instance, and are willing to truly take a stand against it.

As individuals, we are at a lifelong battle against the limits placed on ourselves as well as by ourselves and the environment. We are constantly banging our fists against the cuffs which bind us; breaking sweat and bleeding chaos until we truly feel free.

As a citizen of our country, as a woman, as a youngster and as a person of a particular standing in a particular sphere of life, I am well aware of the role human emancipation has played in the history; enabling us to claim the ground we stand on and continue to question and shape the role various social constructs play in our lives.

The need for liberation is enormous and constant; as much as the need for social order is.

Throughout history, the ever present theme has been of “freedom from oppression”. Despite being born free, we feel the need to pull away the minute we develop our first true attachments and social links. We pull away the minute we feel claustrophobic and find the need to let more air in…

And from our first wail, we learn how this is done.