"Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think." -George Orwell 1984
I keep coming back again and again to the character Winston in Orwell's 1984. I know that Orwell meant the book to be a warning about totalitarian regimes, and as a way to combat Soviet style communism, but the book speaks on many more levels than that about more basic themes. This book has themes like intellectual freedom, human dignity, affection, and even more.
Winston's phrase written in his diary,
"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows. "(Orwell 1984)is totally opposed to the philosophy of the party, explained by his intimate friend, and ultimate torturer, O'Brien.
O'Brien's response is essentially that the party determines what is truth, and if the party says 2+2=5, it is, and has always been 5. That speaks volumes to the idea that human thoughts and reasonings can exist outside of the dominant thought of society, but also that there will always be those in society that want to change how people think.
We all spend so much time trying to fit into society's norms and morays without even thinking whether they are right or wrong. Even in religion, it's amazing how much of American religion is not Christian or Catholic, but is particularly culturally based with a quickly constructed shell of scriptures that appear to support it.
While I am in solidarity with my Catholic brothers, and believed that they are just as saved as I am, I believe that Martin Luther caused great changes for the world both religiously and intellectually. Luther is like Winston in his refusal to accept the liturgy of the church as truth when it did not agree with scriptures. He thought for himself, he interpreted the bible for himself and determined what was true and what was not for himself. He refused to let someone else do his thinking for him.
I know that is a simple truth, but this simple truth has caused so many changes in the world. How many times do we see the same problems that Luther encountered come back upon the world time and time again? From The Inquisition, to the French and American Revolution, through so many other world wars, and such movements as Political Correctness, McCarthyism, up to problems with censorship after 9/11, it seems that the strong in power are always trying to squash free thought. They will always follow O'Brien's lead in thinking that:
You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable.(Orwell 1984) But even more than just governments and religions, the fight for free thought is everywhere. Media companies are deciding what they will broadcast, what news stories, and what books will be published. They are in the business to make money, but how are they changing what people think is true?
In school, and business, and all other arenas. It's not enough to those in power that we submit to their rules and regulations. No, they want us to believe these rules and regulations and not give them a second thought. It's not enough to do what you are told, you have to think the same way, and if they detect anything less than orthodoxy you will be punished.
I don't know how to respond in order to be like Winston or Luther, or Gandhi, I could list on and on. To be able to stand up even though I know I am heading for certain death and doom is quite a task. But it's my ideal, and my goal to live like him and those others like him. That ideal to be attained is that my thoughts are my own, that my ideas are my own and that mindless orthodoxy is avoided at all costs.
More Orwell Posts:
George Orwell 1984
Big Brother Is Watching You
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine