10 January 2011

Opinion: Tacit agreement is still agreement

I have a blog.

Anyone can have one…but what do you DO with it in times like these? We are, in a way, a special part of public discourse…even unpaid, free blogs. We have a special voice, even among millions of other blogs. Shouldn’t anyone with a blog treat that voice… that freedom of expression to untold numbers of our fellow earthlings…with some degree of respect and responsibility?

Noblesse Oblige – we who have the ability to speak, should – responsibly, ethically.

Being a part of a society that values free speech, things need said. Blogs, boards, youtube and you name it…we have more means of expression…and more responsibility than ever before.

Free speech is a double edged sword…

Censorship is never the answer. People have a right to their thoughts and opinions no matter how vile, violent, evil, and wrong the rest of us might think them to be. The problem, sometimes, isn’t what is said, but what isn’t.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying something along the line of ”all that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to remain silent”.

As true as ever, this sentiment shows how the responsibility for violent divisive rhetoric (and sadly, sometimes, in the case of very disturbed individuals, violent actions) lies at all our feet. Those who choose to speak and act belligerently, violently, and with bigotry are responsible for the consequence and results of that choice.

The rest are responsible for their choice to be silent.

With the violence against Congresswoman Gifford this weekend takes this country across a Rubicon of sorts: it is no longer a matter of right or left, conservative or liberal…it is a matter of integrity, compassion, and of our very humanity.

In order to be free, we must preserve the right to think and speak freely…even those who spew the most violent and bigoted ideas. The failure does not lie with freedom of speech, the failure lies with those who do not speak. The answer is not censorship, but greater communication.

It seems, and I am no expert, that most people like to find other people who are like them. We all celebrate finding like minds. We are social creatures, and that likeness and conjoining of minds and intentions is a powerful thing. It is a powerful thing that must be used mindfully, deliberately. The voices of compassion and respect must at least equal, if not outnumber the voices of violence and bigotry for this to be a healthy and peaceful place to be. The only supporting evidence I can offer is the movements and groundswells within the U.,S over the years….civil rights…then conservatism playing other bigotries like gender issues and religion….then the hope of the Obama campaign and repeal of dadt….congressmen talking about ‘all americans’ and church…atheist finding the courage to voice their view publically…

Somewhere in the grand ebb and flow we find someone ‘like me’.

Those who advocate peace, compassion, tolerance, respect, must be vocal so those like of that mind can be as empowered as those who engender violence, judgmentalism and bigotry.

The answer to inflammatory hate speech isn’t silence. The answer is reason-speech, compassion speech.

We can’t control others, as much as we might wish to. We can’t control the majority if we are surrounded and overwhelmed by wrong opinions.

All we can control is ourselves. It is your choice. Do you choose to agree with them through your silence?

All I can offer as suggestions is the things I’ve done myself. I can’t ask you to do something that I haven’t done myself.

I vow to be peaceful in my speech and actions….www.itakethevow.com

Peaceful does not mean actionless or silent.

When I receive e-mail forwards that are bigoted, hateful, or violent in some way, I will not silently delete them…I tell the person who sent them how hurtful and objectionable I find their “forward” to be.

I don’t go to christian church services: I won’t, by my presence, imply that I agree with a theology when I genuinely do not.

I do go to special services to support those I love, those who do believe in those things as an expression of their genuine spirituality.

There is a difference in speaking against something and speaking FOR something. Silence speaks loudest of all...silence agrees, not disagrees.

I want to speak FOR peace, not against those who see things differently from me.

I want to SPEAK for peace, not sit in silence while those who are bigoted yammer incessantly.

May you find balance, peace and your voice in a way and a time that is right for you.

May there be light and love abundantly for all.

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