Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freedom of Speech

Like millions of others I am upset, angry and sad over the recent events in France. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in the senseless attacks by the terrorists. Over 3.2 million French citizens showed their concern and anger but also their respect for tolerance and understanding by their march. It was a proud moment for the people of France.

Freedom of Speech has been hard fought for over the years, it is not a right that people in power really like. Freedom of Speech gives those in power or authority problems. People may use their power of speech to advocate for the overthrow of governments, make fun of religion,  poke fun at our hero's or advocate a position with which the powerful disagree.

Democracy depends on the principle of free speech, but today there are those that would put limits (unreasonable) on Free Speech because of the Terrorist threat and because it fits their own agenda for power. In our society there are limits on free speech, you can't yell fire in a crowded room, or you can't (in Canada) advocate hate crimes, and most of us believe that these are reasonable limits. However, in the name of democracy our government is taking steps to limit freedom through new terrorism laws, and our mainstream media is controlled by powerful vested interests who have no interest in having people read/see the truth except as they see the truth.

In our society the ones who maintain the principle of freedom of speech are the writers, the cartoonists and bloggers on the internet and in mass media, who do not bow to the powerful or the religious fanatics who attack in an attempt to make us afraid.  Fear is a two headed and dangerous enemy, fear can protect us and help us survive, but it can also make us take actions that are not in our best interests. The measure of our society and the future of our democracy will be determined by how we react to the fear and anger that we feel every time there is a terrorist attack. We cannot let those who want power to use our fears to gain control because when they do, we lose our freedom. In the face of danger and fear, we must keep our courage.

Einstein defined courage as moving in the opposite direction. Churchill called courage the first of human qualities. Mandela saw it in the triumph over fear.


Hard to define.

But easy to spot.

Because there is no courage without fear.
Fear of the physical.
Of the psychological.
Of the unknown.

Fear that makes the heart beat a little faster.
Fear that makes our fists clench.
Fear that stops us saying what we believe.

Fear makes us foolish.
It makes us weak.
It insists that we run away and hide.
It grips us from the inside an won’t let go.
It is relentless and powerful.

Fear stops us achieving.
Our goals.
Our dreams.
Our potential.
It closes doors.
It stamps on opportunity.
It panders to the majority.

But it can be conquered.

Because courage is our ally against fear.
An ally to help us break free from our shells.
To take-on our demons.
To ignore the dissenting voices and the sneering looks.

Because the greatest acts of courage are carried out by you ...

... in trying to be you.

Courage means looking into the depths of your soul.
It means ignoring dark voices.
It means trusting yourself.
Despite the nagging doubts.
Despite the devil on your shoulder.
Despite the inner fear.

To develop courage you must make friends with fear.
You must enjoy the feeling.
Because feeling fear means an opportunity.
An opportunity to grow stronger.

Let the weak run from things that scare them
Let the weak listen to their doubts.
Let the weak care what others think.
They will never achieve their dreams.

You. You are different.

You will face your fears.

You will move forward.

You will develop courage and strength.

You will achieve what you deserve.

Every one of us has a dream that is easier to ignore.
A dream we could chase if it wasn't so damn hard.
A dream to push ourselves harder
A dream to be ourselves – when those around us will be shocked.

A dream that requires us to look beyond the fear of the here and now ...

... to a time when we've fought our doubts ...

... and defeated our fears.

Right now we are a slave to those fears.
And that’s when we need courage.
The courage to listen to our soul.
The courage to open up and never to have
to utter the least courageous words of all:

“If only ...”

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