I write this morning because I am free…and you are free to either read or ignore. The common denominator in this exercise is choice. Although the opportunities that come our way are different and our individual aspirations are not the same, as people who live in America, we all have the freedom to choose what path we travel; and that choice is what we, as people who live in America, love, love, love.
When things get a little wanky, however, is when we have a problem with and proceed to comment on the path someone else chooses — which is a past time that we as individuals thrive upon and participate in more than ever. We now enjoy a new-found freedom in an exponentially increasing social media phenomenon which allows everyone to have a problem with and comment on people’s opinions in an instant…often engaging a supporting army of “likes” and “shares” along the way.
Although the freedom to converse and express is one of the most cherished and primary freedoms we enjoy (it is guaranteed by the First Amendment), it is perhaps the most abused and misunderstood. The First Amendment gives us the right to open our mouths and say whatever pops in our teeny little brains, but it does not protect us from the anger, disgust, or commentary we may encounter from those who disagree with us. Therefore, rule number one for participating in the public disclosure of one’s thoughts: if you can’t take the heat from the stew you simmer, then don’t cook.
Which brings us to rule number two: arguing with someone who disagrees with your cherished words of wisdom is futile at best. If we would take a page from history, we would discover that compromise requires civilized discourse. Settling an issue mandates that those involved present facts, refute claims, and suggest alternative ways of accomplishing a goal.
It is called intelligent conversation, but is it too late to begin having one? I hope not and I, for one, am betting on our American stubbornness and our pride. I am betting we will protect our freedom against all odds, and I am betting we will continue to make sure everyone in America enjoys the same freedoms.
But for us to show true appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy and be able to withstand any threats to our ability to walk down the paths we choose to take, we better start figuring out how to have an intelligent conversation with one another. Only then will the First Amendment serve her purpose.
Long live Lady Liberty.