Freedom of Speech in a Diverse World

News & SocietyPolitics

  • Author June Stepansky
  • Published June 16, 2019
  • Word count 457

Voltaire (1694—1778) said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". That statement made so long ago is more timely than ever.

As our country and our world becomes more diverse as to political, religious, ethnic and racial values, it will be increasingly important that all of us have a high tolerance for differences of opinions, because it is likely that we may differ from our neighbors as to values, clothes, behavior or relationships.

It is also important that while we must allow all diverse opinions to freely be expressed. we must not allow any political, religious, ethnic, or racial group to dictate to everyone else their "truth".

A free society allows every person to follow the dictates of his conscience, but not to impose them on others. This means that we will all need to compromise our "truths" when they are in conflict with other people‘s "truths". It means that no one is above the secular laws of the land in which they have chosen to live. If the laws are not considered fair, in a free society we all have the power to work to change those laws.

As in all good families and societies, communication and compromise are the key to good relationships. Why is this adjustment of our thinking so difficult for all of us? I like to think of myself as a tolerant person, but I notice that I too have my prejudices and stereotypical ways of thinking. These past erroneous ideas became part of my thinking when I was young because of the prevailing, more intolerant thinking of the times and the community in which I then lived. They came at a time when I was too young to question them. Now however as an adult I do have the strength and the ability to question and change them if those ideas are not longer valid. It is important then to be aware of where our less tolerant thinking has originated.

For most of us new ways of thinking and new ways of living are not always easy for us to understand, accept and change. It does take patience and effort to change our opinions to a more tolerant way of thinking and acting in the new and more modern, diverse world.

Our best hope in a diverse country and world, is that we all learn from each other, Just as we have learned to enrich our cuisine with spaghetti, chop-suey , french onion soup, sushi—all the good diverse foods of the world, so too can we enrich our lives with new ways of living by taking the best of each culture and perhaps making them our very own.

June Stepansky is a published writer and poet who writes books and articles about happiness, self-improvement and social and political issues--

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