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The type of oppression that is imposed by nature is well known. It consists of the pains of sickness, the weaknesses of old age, the various liabilities of the body (its limited capabilities, infirmities, or degenerations), and all such stress-causing factors.


Similarly, the social sciences have developed a "sociology of disasters," which describes and analyzes behaviour caused by natural factors.
Man-made oppression, however, is of a different character. Whereas "natural" oppressions are overt and easily recognizable, man-made-or socially induced--oppression has, as a rule, to be unmasked, even though in social life, oppression, like power, is ubiquitous. Moreover, unlike naturally induced oppression, the concept of man-made oppression accepts as its basic assumption the concept of free will. The existential idea that an individual can be the "master of his fate," or even that he/ she is "sentenced to freedom," radically alters the perception of human made oppression from the traditional notion that the human condition is one of pain and the creation of pain.
Oppression is, above everything else, a condition of being, a particular stance one is forced to assume with respect to oneself, the world, and the exigencies of change. It is a pattern of hopelessness and helplessness. People only become oppressed when they have been forced (either subtly or with obvious malice) to finally succumb to the insidious process that continually undermines hope and subverts the desire to "become." The process, which often is self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing, leaves in its wake the kinds of human beings who have learned to view themselves and their world as chronically, almost genetically, estranged. ...
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