This is an attempt to bring into discussions, currently underway, the arguments hitherto not considered or not voiced in the open because there is a general sense of fear of offending the masses, my aim is to discuss those issues that need better elucidation and to bring back the discussion to the basic premises when one is engaged in discussion/debate concerning freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of thought and conscience.
There have been attempts made by lawyers and judiciary to address this issue, progress has been made, albeit slowly and painfully, I am not discounting this fact.
With regards to freedom of thought and speech one must begin the discussion with the sound understanding of the human history, evolution, our place in the cosmos.
The fundamental flaw in understanding freedom is a failure to acknowledge where we come from and how we come about. The discussion always starts without taking into account the natural process of birth, and evolutionary history.
To illustrate my point, I would like to quote Professor Richard Dawkins from “Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder”. “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.” I would highly recommend you to watch this beautiful 4-minute video of the same on Youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=B94EtOOaoOM
Contemplate this sentence for a few days to understand the gravity of the matter and the extremely unlikely fact of our lives, now that we are here, let us for a moment reflect on that fact, did we choose to be born, importantly, did we choose to be born in a particular geography, di we choose who our parents should be, did we choose what language our mothers and fathers spoke? The simple answer to all these questions is a resounding no.
Now let us consider the history and evolution briefly, human beings have been around since 2,00,000 years in this planet, for much of our existence we did not have a coherent language and we did not have the know how to record what we experienced, the process of civilization is predicated on scientific breakthroughs of one kind or the other, humanity made great leaps because of cooking their food, cooked food meant we had to spend less energy in digesting what we ate that resulted in a surplus of energy which was utilised by the brains for thinking, this is why we are intelligent. The next ground-breaking advances were primarily because of agriculture, domestication, and then group formations, the social structures that slowly emerged had a powerful evolutionary advantage in the form of safety of young, distribution of labour, strengthening of altruism, also increased in group – out group distinction and rivalry among different groups. Somewhere along the line we also stupidly started believing in supernatural entities because we could not explain thunder, flowing water, volcanos, rain, lightening etc., This however is a significant step because that was the first attempt by human beings at understanding the surrounding which we found ourselves in.
Because of the advantage large groups provided, we gradually built civilisations and developed scripts for our languages, the advent of the scripts meant an explosion of transmission of ideas from one generation to the next and also from one civilisation to the other. Large civilisations also brought in the necessity to form social structures and need for keeping, the ones that took unfair advantage of the society, in check, so that society as a whole can be peaceful and prosper.
That is where we must start our question of individual, because till this point, individual had no restrictions, it is because of the social structures that we imposed restrictions on some of our freedoms for greater good, the people make a compromise with their freedoms so as to be happy and lead a life of considerable comfort afforded by being a part of the society.
However, with such social structure, the inherent problem of power vested by the people in few individuals to safeguard the society at large started to erode those freedoms not forgone too, the freedom of speech is one such freedom which was never willingly compromised by the individuals but the rulers gradually eroded that and we have the recorded history as a testament to the atrocities committed because of this erosion.
With this background, one must understand the importance of freedom of speech as a guardian against fascism, oligarchy, and dictatorship.
We had no choice in where we were born, nor did we choose our parents or the language, so it becomes imperative to question our loyalties to narrowly defined notions of states and nations particularly blind following of the people who espouse those narrow definitions of nations, language, ideology etc., At the same time, since we find ourselves in a social structure that should enable us to grow to our full potential but fails miserably primarily because of the greed and fascistic thugs that try to erode our freedoms, we must constantly make efforts to better the society we live in, that is our social and moral responsibility.
Recall the opening lines of “Unweaving the Rainbow”, this is the only chance we get to live a life, we must live a meaningful life, a considered life, a person who is not reflective is no better than a tree that stands for a thousand years without much change.
It is you and me in our ordinariness that need to fight the forces that try to divide us, it is our responsibility to bear the burden of protecting freedom of speech and expression against all those that try to take it away from us. Without that fundamental freedom, our societies will not be conducive to humanity.
So it is up to you and me to fight the current attack by the BJP/RSS and Narendra Modi and his thugs.
Rise India and fight for your the most basic and fundamental right, the right to be able to think, the right to be able to speak without the fear of oppression and persecution.
I am Dr Yogesh D, currently a postgraduate in Anatomy, I studied medicine to help the society, and eventually realised the larger social evils that are at the root of the misery of millions, hence decided to pursue a field where I can educate many young people so that the roots of misery, particularly religion and superstition can be eradicated slowly but permanently. I also intend to pursue a PhD in genetics and neurosciences so that I can do research that will help us understand ourselves better.