Opening Words from Sun. August 7 by Vasudha Koduru: "I am Free to Believe What I Want"

Very rarely do we get a chance to rest our thoughts on our daily chores, our day to day practical concerns. When we see a topic like this, it feels refreshing. As we step back a little and start pondering over the philosophical understanding, the inner core of our existence- ideologies, beliefs, values, ethics that must have shaped our lives.

It seems like my life came a full circle. It started as a quest for freedom: questioning the imposed identities of religion, gender and longing for freedom to be able to choose, believe and to dream. Now, not that I found the freedom that I was wanting, but I have started questioning why I want certain things to happen to me?

This occurred to me as I started looking into whether “I" really exist. Am I really an untouched, uninfluenced individual whose beliefs are self-made? How much of "I" is really me? This understanding of within does states outright that “I am what I want to be" might not be it! I is surely embedded in 'we'! I am made by the society at large but I do exercise my agency. So how do we comprehend this "I" quandary? This I think is an important question when we are talking about the individual freedom to believe.

Having freedom to believe in what we want is really a non-negotiable position! “I" should fight for it as the fundamental right of human integrity. Once I identify that; then arises the question why should I believe in certain belief system? Because, all I did is pick a method that is already set forth into motion by some section of society. Shouldn’t the larger politics of framing a belief system over the ages be critically analyzed? In the times that we are in it is easier to think that we believe in what we want to! Yet fall prey for something which we cannot even think of! Look at the unabashed rise of traditionalism all across the world and the fetishism amongst some educated youth in the name of religion and nation.

This conscious part has alerted me to look out for a platform that can educate me and empower my ability to understand. This struggle to keep rationality has made me space in the society here and also as a member of South Asian Humanist Association, SAHA. In a long time I feel at peace to have stood up as total me. Together we challenge and critique the imposed contrivance and seek a language further with fellow humanists and inspiring thinkers. We thrive to recognize our common humanity & take on compassionate stand for human solidarity.

Noam Chomsky the great American public intellectual says that there is a need for everyone to take a course in intellectual self-defense for there are many invisible hands that shapes our being. Hope this meet today will help us think in that direction.