This month, in discussing our hard-won freedoms, the foundation from which these ideals stem is important to remember. Therefore a freedom I strongly value is the freedom of belief. The freedom to believe, to act, to live, to do and say what I want is a fundamental liberty.
For me, one’s freedom to believe (or not to hold any belief) is priceless. My personal belief is not based on a dogmatic ideal from a government or individual; rather it is developed from my life experience and time spent searching, reflecting, as well as concluding that what I perceive now to be true may be completely wrong—but it is the best I have at the moment.
Rob Bell says this below, writing in a Christian context, but applicable I think to all of us. The freedom to believe needs to result in substance, it needs to be more than something said;
“For a Christian, Jesus’ teachings aren’t to be followed because they are a nice way to live a moral life. They are to be followed because they are the best possible insight into how the world really works. They teach us how things are. I don’t follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into the ultimate reality”
And this freedom is vital. Each of us should follow what we believe are the values, the norms and the ideas which give the best insight, the best hope for justice and mercy into how the world really works. And within this quagmire of different beliefs, we gain the ability to see, respect and work together, to accomplish justice where alone one view may have missed the point.
Imagine a world where you were told what the best reality was. Imagine being told the whole time what to believe and think and do. Sounding a bit like our old governing system to you?
The freedom I have to believe and live and debate with those I come into contact with allows me to avoid excessive individualising. Through it, and as part of a community, I am given the ability to comprehend which of my beliefs are perhaps not leading to justice but in themselves causing another injustice.
My freedom to believe gives me the freedom to fight for equality. My foundational beliefs lead me to be a feminist; what are your beliefs that define who you are?