Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.
Leo N. Tolstoy
Topic: Wisdom & Understanding
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless.”
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, known widely as Leo Tolstoy, was born on September 9, 1828, and is celebrated for his profound contributions to literature as a Russian novelist. He penned two of the greatest novels in literary history, 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina,' both of which explored the intricacies of human nature and society in an era of profound change in Russia. Tolstoy was not only a master of realistic fiction, but also a prominent figure in the movement for political and social reform in Russia, his beliefs straying towards anarchism as he vehemently criticized institutional power structures and advocated for a return to a more simple, agrarian society.
Tolstoy was deeply influenced by Christian teachings, developing a distinct interpretation that emphasized the principles of non-violence, universal love, and inner moral reform. His spiritual beliefs profoundly shaped his worldview and his writings, with a focus on the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus's commandment to turn the other cheek. In embracing this ascetic and nonviolent interpretation of Christianity, Tolstoy was often at odds with the official Russian Orthodox Church, leading to his ex-communication in 1901.
One of Tolstoy's most impactful works from his later years was 'The Kingdom of God is Within You', a philosophical treatise on the implementation of nonviolent resistance as a force for change. This work has had a far-reaching impact on the global stage, notably influencing iconic figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. who used Tolstoy's ideas to form the basis of their respective nonviolent civil rights movements. Leo Tolstoy passed away on November 20, 1910, but his legacy lives on through his works and the enduring influence of his moral and philosophical ideals.
Essays on Religion
Wilson, Andrew, editor. World Scripture II. Universal Peace Federation, 2011, p. 712 [Leo Tolstoy, Essays On Religion].
Leo N. Tolstoy
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