Freedom, Truth & Zealotry

In our search for truth, humans adopt a wide variety of religious, political and cultural beliefs.  While it is imperative that we are free to follow and express those beliefs, it is equally vital that others are free to question their validity and to expose their effects on society as a whole.  Unfortunately, as we have seen in Paris this week, zealots cannot tolerate such criticism and often turn to violence to intimidate those who reject their rigid doctrines.

Indeed, zealotry and the intolerance that it spawns are the greatest threats to human freedom.  An unwillingness to consider other points of view or to question our own beliefs stifles social progress, promotes human conflict and derails the advancement of science.  Threatened by knowledge, zealots use fear to disrupt the channels of human enlightenment.

While Islamic extremists have become the most recent symbol of human zealotry, zealots exist in all religions and among all divisions of human society; all claim to represent truth and they restrict the freedom of others to enforce that illusion.  But truth is universal and will only be manifest when freedom of thought and expression are fostered and protected.