Dignity, Freedom and all these things

2015-08-11 11:01

That people die fighting for.

The question that always follows me around, whose job is it to grant you access to something which is, allegedly, inherently yours?

Let's talk about the restoration of human dignity, that which was stolen from South Africans and is to be returned to them by means of land acquisition. The restoration of dignity, of course, does not pass without implying the conveniently worded cuts of other dignities, perhaps less important anyway, of those who have privately acquired land ownership and have only papers to prove their legitimacy, in contrast to those who vividly claim ancestry.

It's not about whose claim is the strongest, see, the problem here is how to give back a sense of dignity that once went missing? And most importantly, how to make sure this sense of dignity lasts more than the one that came with yesterday's social grant.

But maybe human dignity is just a byproduct of freedom, after all, we humans, live to activate the potentiality of our inherent liberties!

And what a great time it is to be born and receive a complimentary human rights package (unless you are born in a place where those are commodified and you must therefore have enough capital to earn you a specific right). But fortunately some rights are free, such as the right to a name. We are no longer called by numeracy nor by physical appearance, and to the extent of naming our children some dubious things we have become accustomed to the full exercise of this right.

Still, there is a right that is held above any other and that is the right to express oneself. Freedom of expression is particularly important, for no matter what you say, you will always be able to take refuge under the concept of relativity and if someone is to attack you on your words, your same mouth will quickly invoke the right to expression you have. This is the same right that has advanced many of the much needed talks and ideas, the right that has given life to movements and that has influenced history. But also a right that influences the movement of my palm to my forehead.

My question is actually much simpler than all this verbosity:

Is it the government's job to secure your rights?

Should the government consider factors such as "human dignity" when deliberating on the next bill? Should the government be placing asymmetric emphasis on the freedom of expression, even if this promotes the tyranny of the majority? Is the government responsible for your social welfare, happiness and overall well being?

Civil Society grows unsatisfied with the government's doings, a perpetual state of discontent follows almost after the vote is in, when we find ourselves in a situation no different from the one we were in before, only now we have one more shirt. Perhaps our discontent stems from a premise of what the government is expected to do, a premise that is unfortunately wrong.

When we signed that Social Contract, did we bother to truly reason as to what job would governance entail, and did we consider that no institution nor constitution will ever compensate for human frailty?

Can we truly act shocked when our leaders seek an extra term, or build a village on the side, when we ourselves jump lines almost subconsciously?

As Civil Society, we need to realize that if we come to be enough, the government becomes what it is meant to be: an administrative board. The government does not exist to regulate the amount of oxygen intake of every citizen; on the contrary, the government is there to make sure that oxygen maintains its existence, so that citizens can freely pursue whatever values they deem important.

Dignity and Freedom are not caged in the Parliament waiting to be released. Parliamentarians are to worry about our trade relations and to prioritize our means of production, but please do not expect the government to mediate with the Sun on whether it is possible for it to shine a little less.

It's our job as citizens to find some shade and prosper.

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