Our independence and freedom have come at no small cost. Most can agree that we are enormously thankful for the sacrifices both known and unknown that have been made to supply that independence and freedom.
We have an obligation to treat this gift with some level of reverence. What shall we do with this freedom?
~ Who Do We Want to Be ~
We have a choice.
Some appear to be choosing hate or even violence for “the other guy.”
Some appear to be choosing to try to cause friction between two groups for their own, self serving motives.
Some appear to be choosing honest debate, problem solving, and bringing groups together.
Freedom of speech does not mean you should call people names and belittle them for having views different than your own. Have you ever changed someone’s mind by yelling insults at them? So is your goal to just hurt them? Sometimes that may be your goal, but chances are you will just succeed at getting them to yell back at you. Or, perhaps, just block you out and ignore anything you have to say.
Freedom of speech does mean that someone may challenge you on ideas that you express. Sometimes they will challenge you in rude or insulting ways. Someone may find your ideas insulting and tell you as much. You can engage or not. It is your freedom to choose. You do not need to choose to take it personally. You may believe that someone disagrees with you because you are white, black, brown, Asian, immigrant, male, female, poor, rich, college educated, not college educated, Republican, Democrat, or whatever subgroup of America you identify with. Maybe you are right or maybe they disagree because they think you are wrong. Maybe you ARE wrong. It can happen.
Leaders and TV personalities are spending more time commenting on perceived motivations and personal attributes of those with which they disagree. Maybe it is because in the medical field we are discouraged from making nonobjective remarks in our documentation. Maybe it is because many look to these individuals for some hard truths of what is real. But it is disappointing that some of those that would lead are either fanning the fog or trying to reflect back what some in the community are putting out. News and investigations will be reported and sometimes through red or blue glasses and that is fine. It is the school yard name calling that they have the freedom and the responsibility to choose to stop.
Party leaders seem to represent the extreme bases that they represent. They are worried about primaries and donations during their next election. Moderates have some representation in Congress but the game of politics does not allow their voices to be heard. That would mean working with the other side that have been painted as evil, heartless, or un-American. If you have convinced your voters that someone is evil, how can you ever be seen negotiating with them?
Can we lead our leaders? I do not know. I will try to start to editing myself more and will be calling people out on social media when they cross the line. Please call me out if my sarcasm crosses into rude or mean. I will not bother trying to give a “freedom to choose civility” speech to everyone. Some types of mean are just better to walk away from to avoid calling attention to the stench.