Freedom OF Thought, or Freedom FROM Thought?

A comment on a previous entry led me to think a bit about how we let what we read, hear, and see affect our opinions and thoughts. Freedom of thought (not freedom from it) is vitally important to our survival in the future as people who love Life, Liberty & Property. As the old saying goes, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and there are many things going on in the world today that bear some careful thought and consideration.

In our day to day world, there are many occasions when we make judgement calls about things in which we have valid, useful, first-hand information. These are situations where we can be relatively certain that our judgement is accurate. We’ve looked at all the angles, and using the knowledge we’ve gained, we’ve determined the correct way to proceed.

How many times, though, do we see, hear, or read about situations in which we make a snap judgement based only on what we’ve watched on TV, heard on the radio, or read in the newspapers or online? Have you ever changed your mind after that snap judgement? Do you ever go seeking to find out if what you saw/heard/read was accurate? You see, it a world filled with so much media, we must really be sure that we’re exercising our freedom OF thought – not our freedom FROM thought. Freedom of thought allows us to step back and say, “Wow, that really sounds interesting – I wonder if it’s accurate?” Freedom from thought says “well, it must be so or they couldn’t produce/publish it.”

Freedom of thought will lead us to search every avenue available on a subject of interest rather than jumping on the nearest bandwagon. And, if you exercise your freedom of thought, you might just come to some really interesting conclusions – conclusions that may turn your original thoughts or established beliefs completely upside down. This kind of thinking, be forewarned, is not popular – and may cause you a great deal of grief, because bucking the establishment in any form will cause you to be ridiculed or held up as an imbecile to others. Yet it can be richly rewarding to self – if you can get past the need for accolades from others – to know, within your own heart and mind, that you’re not just blindly following the crowd.

My dad, whom I mentioned in a previous post, is a Minister. Dad taught us well – by example – that we should never pass anything along to others without doing our homework to try to insure that we were not passing along gossip or garbage. Incidentally, LOL, friends can tell you that I have never passed along chain emails and spam – and that more than one of them has received a link back to one of the urban legend debunking sites!

Recently, dad and I were talking about the word “Knowledge”. Dad laid it out to me in a way that I’d never thought about. Breaking the word into its separate syllables, it becomes “Know Ledge”. When we think about acquiring knowledge, we think of it as a climb up a ladder. When we’ve learned something concrete, we’ve reached a “know ledge”. We can stand on it. It’s firm. It’s a ledge on which we can place our trust, and from it we can rest and “chew the fat” about what we’ve learned until we’re ready to climb to the next level of “know ledge”.

Now, getting back to the ideas of freedom of thought and freedom from thought, whenever we gain knowledge from our research, we must sometimes use all our senses to discern truth. As the saying goes “the truth is out there”. While there are things that we can’t ever know for certain, if we at least take the time to search, using the knowledge that we can stand on (be it understanding of human nature, concrete science, or first hand information) we can at least be sure of using our freedom of thought to do the best humanly possible to grasp the realities of any situation. And wouldn’t that be better, always, than letting our brains atrophy in the mire of freedom FROM thought?

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