Saturday, April 25, 2009

Freedom Is As Freedom does

Having just written a talk for church on education and the need for freedom of thought and expression I thought this was a timely article.  Click here to go to the article.

A couple of years ago I read the book “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck, and jotted down this passage.  “The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.  And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.  And this I must fight against: any idea, religion or government which limits or destroys the individual......I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system.  Surely, I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us fron  the uncreative beasts.......Our species is the only creative species and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man.”

I was quite moved by this idea of individual freedom, and yet, at the same time, bothered by what I perceived to be a focus on conformity of thought in the church.   Surely, God wouldn’t have made us thinking creatures to begin with if he didn’t expect us to use our minds and be individuals!  

I  then came across this quote from a talk by Elder Hugh B. Brown, in which he said basically the same thing as Steinbeck. “We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom in the Church ……… and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it……….”

 God wants us to think freely and decide how we as individuals will apply the correct principles that we are taught. This can sometimes be a difficult thing to accept for those who want to see everything in terms of black and white, because it means that there isn’t always an easy answer to everything, and it demands that we be tolerant and accepting of the decisions of others, even if we don’t agree with them.  

Another great Hugh B. Brown quote:  “Just as the truths of science must be tested and verified by reason and factual investigation, so the moral and spiritual truths which the world is seeking from its prophets must be proved and validated in the experience of men.  In his search for truth, every man must be true to himself.  He must answer to his own reason and to his own moral conscience.  Anything less than this would betray his dignity as a human being and a child of God.”  

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