It's rather ironic that I am thankful for Freedom of Speech, as I so often proclaim that half the known world (especially the world that is found on radio and TV) just needs to shut up. (I say half the known world when I really just mean here in our country.) The reality is that although I would like to silence quite a few folks out there, it goes both ways. If I can say my piece, so can they. It's the American Way.
But it's more than just saying what we please. I am thankful that we don't live in fear because of something we've said or written. There are places in this world where saying or writing the wrong thing will get you killed.
Here we are free to voice our opinions, our dissent, our praises, and our frustrations. We are free to proclaim our desires, air out our differences, and most of all - we are free to think. To THINK.
There are those in our country who would like to squelch this freedom, but it will not happen. For too long we have been a nation of free and passionate thinkers. It's what makes us great.
A couple of days ago on Facebook, I saw that two of my daughter's high school friends had posed for a photograph. The young man was wearing an anti-Obama sweatshirt, and the young woman was wearing a pro-Obama shirt. They were standing arm-in-arm. They are friends. Many mutual friends commented and several spoke up as to which shirt THEY would be seen wearing. But all agreed that it was a very cool picture.
They spoke their piece. They disagreed. They are still friends.
A few elections ago, I had a friend who asked me whom I was going to vote for in the presidential election. When she discovered that we were not in agreement, she ended the friendship then and there. Her words were, "I cannot be friends with a person who would vote for him." I was stung, but I realized she obviously wasn't much of a friend in the first place.
And I thought it was rather infantile and closed-minded. I had already known we weren't in agreement, politically; I had just never pointed it out. I was OK with it. Apparently she was not.
Wouldn't it be boring if we all thought and believed the same way? How would we learn? How would we stretch our minds and explore new ideas?
I want to be like the two high school students with the opposing messages on their shirts: standing arm in arm and smiling. Oh, that we could all be like them.
That is the American Way. And I am very thankful for it.
Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes