Freedom of thought: need for balance
IT is a common saying that thought is free. If a man truly believes in his views, then he will jealously guard them at any cost. Some people may even die for their ideals rather than hide their thoughts. Freedom of thought includes the freedom of speech. Both are closely related.
Men have made great sacrifices for the sake of their cherished beliefs. Socrates drank the cup of poison to vindicate the integrity of his character and the truth of his ideas.
Galileo suffered torture behind the prison bar because he had the strong conviction of his thoughts. Crushed under the weight of torture, he once said that the earth is stationary, but in the same breath he again said: “No, no, it moves round the sun.”
Shelley was turned out of the university for his beliefs. Our Holy Prophet suffered torture because his thoughts and his message were against the old-established ideas of the infidels of Arabia.
Freedom of thought has often been denied because it is considered to be dangerous.
No doubt, ideas bring about revolutions. The French Revolution was made possible by the thoughts and writings of Rosseau, Diderot and Voltaire. The Socialistic Revolution of Russia was brought about by the ideas of Karl Marx and Lenin.
The great democracy of America came into existence because of the thoughts of some leaders.
There can be no progress in any sphere of life without freedom of thought.
Scientific progress remained at low ebb as long as the freedom of thought was suppressed in that field.
Scientists were suspected of being in league with the devil. When science was freed of these impediments, it took rapid strides to make man`s life easier and more convenient; it worked wonders in all branches of life.
In the field of politics, freedom of thought has ushered in the era of democracies of republics. With the growth of democratic governments, the rights of the common man have been recognised. Now the voters are the real masters. The representatives in parliament are the servants of the public. Where there is no freedom of thought and expression, people suffer under monarchy or dictatorship.
An unrestricted freedom of thought can sometimes degenerate into licence. It is quite possible that a group of persons may be misled in their ideas. The state sometimes feels the necessity of putting restrictions upon such loose thinking.
Extremes are always bad. Suppression of the freedom of thought is as dangerous as loose thinking. Healthy ideas must prevail and unhealthy ones must be suppressed.
SALEEM NASIR MEERANI