In research for a class assignment, I thought about two quotes from Benjamin Franklin:
“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. This was first written by Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its Reply to the Governor (11 Nov. 1755)
Recent events in the world have new visibility and attention to topics such as border security, cyber security, religious security, security from uncomfortable words, fake news, real news and opinions which may differ from yours. There has been a rise in labels: racist, terrorist, extremist, snowflake, feminist, fascist, alt-right, alt-left, and on and on and on. There have been demonstrations for freedom, against freedom, for governments and against, for Security and against Liberty.
It’s enough to make one’s head spin. Or at least make one spin the channel to some drivel about cupcake and treehouse masters. We must, for a moment, stop the hyperbole and rationally move back to the MIDDLE of the road rather than standing on the curbs throwing words and stones at the other side. We are all on the same damn road. We must begin to understand that compromise is not “loosing” and we must understand that this nation especially, was and is stronger by inclusion than division. We must not give up Liberty for Security. We must not trade our rights, or the rights of others for feeling safe in our little bubbles. We do not need to drown out the alt-right nor the alt-left with chants and screaming. Discourse, intellectual discussion, LISTENING to the why behind the words helps us all understand. You don’t have to agree with someone to LISTEN, you don’t have to adopt another’s beliefs to be tolerant. To act and react with Love is the greatest commandment. Freedom of expression, in art, language, beliefs is a founding principal of this nation. We must protect it, even if that means your internet isn’t filtered, your FB feed isn’t managed, your laws permit activities you don’t consider moral, and even if it means you must WORK a lot harder to understand truth. Liberty is worth working for…