Man is born free “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains. ” Jean-Jacques Rousseau. What Jean-Jacques Rousseau meant is that government, social class, wealth and poverty are man-made prisons in which people trap one another. These prisons are all around us and have many forms. Rousseau does not go so far as to claim that simple good manners, altruism and general decent behavior are also prisons. Born free merely means not born into slavery, but it is arguable whether anyone is “born free”. We are all enslaved by society to some degree.
As a child we are at the mercy of our parents and teachers. Our parents can screw us up so easily with the wrong food, the wrong support, the wrong advice, and so on. Our teachers can fill our minds with the wrong ideas and knowledge and we as children have to obey them. As an adult we have to work 9 to 5 five days a week for a boss to earn money to live. This means doing what ever we are told by that boss. At all times we are expected to obey thousands of laws, most of which we don’t even know exist.
If we don’t we can lose our liberty. Family life can also be seen as a chain or prison for man. A husband is expected to be the honorable role model; never cheating on his wife, and having a job that provides. A wife is expected to cook, clean, and smother the children with affection. Grandparents are expected to instill wisdom in their grandchildren. The kids are expected to make good grades, stay out of trouble, and help out around the house. All these expectations are added to a person as soon as they gain a family.
Although some of these chains are necessary to maintain order such as laws others are merely applied by those around us based off what they believe to be common and morally accepted. This system of chains makes it nearly impossible for people to be who they truly are. The people we meet may only be facades of their true selves because they constrict to the chains society has attached to them. The chains of our current society, government, and overall world hardly allow man to be called free.