I wasn't sure how to even begin on this post. Or what to call it. It's been a long time coming though. In the back of my mind, I've considered for quite some time writing on this topic : Freedom of speech as well as discipline in our words and actions. But I'll admit it was prayers to my Lord over a situation that greatly upset me a week or two ago that made me decide I needed to address it in a blog post. It's a situation in our society that bothers me. It bothers me a great deal. I worry over it. I pray a lot about it. Yet it seems to be increasing and, over the last several months, lines of respect and decency have been crossed over and over again on so many different levels. And not just in stories you hear of people that are known for crossing lines, but in families that are taught the value of treating humans with decency, among friends who have treasured one another for years and sometimes a life time, among leaders who are supposed to be protectors of our government and setting an example for the country, and yes, among people that barely even know one another. There is a great lack of respect, a lack of allowing someone to express an opinion without personal attack, a judgment or slander about a person based on one thing they believe in.
I read somewhere recently that "freedom of any kind is impossible without discipline. There is no such thing as unlimited freedom, because what we do affects other people and their freedom."
This is so true and what I've been saying for years, and much more often in recent months though perhaps I haven't said it so eloquently. In conversations with my husband and children, we have talked about how people are treating one another all in the name of 'freedom'. Well, it's not freedom if I don't want it for myself. And it's not freedom if it hurts someone else. It saddens me that I see so much of the hurtful comments thrown around among us these days- in person, on Facebook and the news, even among good Orthodox Christians. Regardless of my opinion or someone else's, however, the fact of the matter is, freedom really is impossible without discipline. And to me that means, if I can't express my opinion without sounding rude, or telling someone else how awful they are for believing in what they do, then I shouldn't express that opinion. I should just move on.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And yes, discussion can and should occur. By all means. Well- not all means. Not with rudeness, disrespect, slander or violence. Express your opinion with dignity- the way you want to be addressed. You don't have to agree with someone to treat them with dignity. You don't have to say they are unreasonable or horrible for believing what they do.
One post will not even begin to address it all. One post will not solve anything. One post will not change the behaviors of the individuals in our society that don't see where they cross lines. One post will not stop the hate. One post will not stop the behaviors that are undoing the united in the United States or the union between brothers and sisters and communities.
What will it do? It will give voice to my thoughts and , perhaps, a bit of yours, dear reader. And if that helps even one of you to at least know we are not in this alone, or if it causes you to just pause next time before you say something abruptly or write a comment on Facebook, then it is worth putting my thoughts out there.
As I stated before, this post was prompted by me about a week or two ago...well, no. I shouldn't say that. A week ago I decided that the thought of addressing this issue on here was no longer just a thought in the back of my mind but a reality that was going to happen.
You see, I am pro-life.
I am very very passionate about being pro-life.
And I get very emotional when see pro-life people being bashed by some pro-choice people (and just to be clear, I don't appreciate bashing of pro-choice people either).
Why? It's not just about having a difference of opinions and expressing them. It's about misguided judgment and rudeness. It's about having a discipline in your freedom of speech.
I've been the target of that bashing thus bringing me to write this post. I've seen my friends be bashed. And the thing is, the people doing the bashing are often good hearted people. And yet they make accusations and slander others like it was their job.
Freedom- any kind of freedom- just isn't possible without this discipline. What we do, no matter what it is, affects other people and their freedom. So there can never be unlimited freedom- for anyone- because your demand that I respect your rights or your freedoms, affects my own freedom. And vice- versa, of course. We need discipline. We need self-restraint. We must not hurt others while exercising our freedom of speech.
One can express oneself without being rude or hurting others. Without shaming others or throwing insults on someone's intelligence or line of reasoning. Just because your knowledge base or perception of a topic thinks that my thought is unreasonable, doesn't mean it is, and yes, vica versa. We should all be able to speak about what we believe in. And we should be able to do so without someone coming at us with personal insult, vulgarities, and slander. And we can certainly protest without violence. And we certainly shouldn't self impose our thoughts to someone that hasn't asked us to share those thoughts. Posting our thoughts and articles on Facebook is one thing: it's a social forum after all. So comment, sure; just don't be insulting. Sending someone personal letters or messages against something they are so passionate about, especially when that message is slanderous on their personhood, is something else. Just don't do it. It's certainly not going to win them over to your side.
And really, attacking their personhood when you don't really know anything about them, why they believe what they do, or what they are or are not willing to do? Just don't do it. Move on. Be respectful. Be loving.
This post is not about the pro-life/pro-choice argument. It's about human decency and how we relate to one another. If you want to share your thoughts on how we should decently treat one another, by all means, comment. If you want to argue on pro-life or any other moral argument of today's culture, or slander me or others for what we believe in, move on. Those posts will not be tolerated here. Just as on my personal facebook posts, I will not tolerate rudeness or slander to myself or friends, family, or even others I disagree with. This post is about human decency. And freedom to express ourselves WITH DISCIPLINE.
Lord , Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. And you. God Bless.