Finding meaning in freedom:
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution: The freedom of speech is one’s legal human right to express oneself. It is a privilege to voice one’s opinion in public forums without the fear of punishment or facing a firing squad. That goes for art, music, ballet, or literature. Do we take this right for granted in this country? I often wonder about this. After all, many have lost their lives or tortured in other nations for the rights individuals have in the United States. Our constitutional rights are no laughing matter in the United States.
Think about this for a minute. US citizens have the right to speak their mind where in other countries people are put to death or tortured or perhaps live in fear of either of these. At the same time, have US citizens taken advantage of this privilege of speaking one’s mind? With the increasing interest in social media, speaking one’s mind can be risky, at times, as labels of racist, left wing, right wing fanatic, ignorant, un-educated, etc. are often applied to individual’s posts on social media. One of my favorites recently: The recent report regarding how college students may need counseling for writing on the ground with chalk (Flores, 2016). Think about this for a second. What is going on here people? Should we stop communicating with others in case we might, unintentionally, offend others or be “labeled” as ignorant or illogical for sharing a perspective? Speaking one’s mind is truly a privilege, but is there a difference between expressing oneself in a substantive manner and just talking (with no purpose)?
The first amendment is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? I can choose to remain silent, as I have done on numerous occasions, because I felt I needed to become more informed on a topic before I shared a potentially useless (waste of air) response. As citizens of the modern world, we have access to information at our fingertips; some of it, certainly, is hardly credible, but it does not take that much longer to find credible sources of information. I always enjoy taking the time to research a topic that is new to me or is important in regards to my life. That is a privilege we have in this country, as individuals in other countries, for example, may have restrictions on the type of information they can locate or how long, even, they can use the internet, etc. I would prefer to learn about – and share – positive information with others; if that information or my perspective makes a positive impact on the life of even one individual, I consider that a success. I prefer to see our young people use their heads and try to make a difference in a (positive way) rather than making others feel inferior. After all, as US citizens, we have the privilege of doing so – and living our lives in a positive manner.
So, is our First Amendment in jeopardy? I wonder, particularly any time I read articles about those who have bullied others, or even see posts and responses on Facebook or other media outlets which denigrate others. For me, the First Amendment is an invaluable privilege, and it means something.
See you in the next post!
Flores, R. “Some Emory University students ‘in pain’ after ‘Trump 2016’ chalked on campus.” Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/emory-university-students-in-pain-after-trump-2016-chalk-writings/