What Liberation Means To Me | The Daily Star
01:16 PM, February 17, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:03 PM, February 17, 2021

What Liberation Means To Me

The word "liberation" is one that has a very broad meaning. The meaning of it has many aspects, and is not only confined to the political context. One might be born in a liberated nation, but may not necessarily lead a liberated life. To me, the meaning of liberation is a combination of freedom of expression, personal empowerment and freedom from social stereotyping.

The first aspect of liberation is that of being able to express yourself as you wish. Once a person reaches adulthood, they should be free to express themselves. In this part of the world, it is often found that people hesitate to express their own opinions on important issues. For example, we might not like something going on in our country, but refrain from expressing it in fear of violent opposition. Thus, what happens is that new ideas do not emerge, resulting in the continuation of the age-old practices, with all its flaws. As long as the prevailing political environment is such that citizens are unable to express themselves in fear of violent opposition, one cannot said to be leading a liberated life, even if they are born in a liberated nation. There will always be opposition, but it should exist in a non-violent and civilized way. Only then will people stop fearing opposition and start expressing their opinions. That is when one can say that they are liberated.

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Another vital aspect of liberation is that one should be empowered in such a way that they have the power to make important decisions in their life, and determine their own goals in life. For example, it is often seen that, even when making very personal decisions like that of career choice, people are highly influenced by others around them. Thus, they might end up choosing a career which will not give them utmost satisfaction. A person who wants to be a singer can often end up becoming a doctor, only because their career choices were influenced by family and friends, rather than their own heart and mind. Such people are rarely able to be satisfied and happy in their lives because they are in such a place in their lives, where they did not ever want to be. So, unless people are able to make their own choices, they cannot be leading a liberated life.

Furthermore, being free from social stereotyping is yet another aspect of the meaning of the word "liberation". People in our society are often unable to lead a liberated life because of the social stereotypes that exist. Gender stereotypes are something instilled into our minds from very childhood, and these act as hurdles for us to lead a liberated life. For example, it is often seen that a girl child who wants to play with a car is not allowed to do so as she is "supposed" to play with a doll instead. As the girl child approaches young adulthood, it is seen in most cases that she is forced to do household chores for a larger portion of the day, than she is allowed to go out and play with her friends. These stereotypes lead them to believe that they "cannot" do certain activities, which disrupt their liberation. Thus, one cannot achieve liberation unless they are able to break away from the social stereotypes.

In a nutshell, liberation does not only refer to sovereignty. Rather, it involves several other aspects like being able to express yourself freely, take your own decisions and break away from social stereotypes. Overall, as Rabindranath Tagore wrote in the 35th poem of Gitanjali, liberation is, "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high."



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