Why Free Speech and Dialogue is Important

Lets say you are a person with an opinion about how things should be. It could be about an argument you had with a loved one, how one should act in the world, economics, religion, politics, philosophy, and so on. As individuals, we understand that our opinions are not shared by others and that is the true beauty of diversitythe diversity of our thoughts and opinions, not in our physical identity of being a certain race or sexuality. We also know that ideas are what change the world, and change lives, whether it be for better or for worse. The only way we can truly understand and value what it means to be an individual is to believe in free speech. Free speech means that no matter how terrible the idea is, no matter the implications of what is being said, that a person can speak their opinion without fear of harm, and when done right, the person being spoken to listens attentively to the speaker. Thanks to freedom of speech/expression, the world has sure changed for the best. People like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi lost their lives for expressing their ideals. Their views were deemed as too offensive, and if what they said wasn’t offensive, they would have lived for much longer than they did.  

  The reason why people have changed the world has been because they were able to engage in a dialogue of a wide range of ideas and come out on top for their more reasonable, logical, and moral stances. A dialogue is this: you have an opinion and I have mine; we argue for a bit and then we reach a consensus, whether it be that one opinion is more logical, moral, or that you at least come to an understanding about why that person has those view-points. What a dialogue also does, is give you a chance to articulate an argument which leads to either failure or success. If I have an argument that could use some tweaking, a good debate can improve upon that. Having someone point out holes in your argument can help in either making a stronger argument or begin to change your argument altogether. Engaging in a dialogue with someone lets the other person realize the flaws in what they are saying as well, which can do that person a favor because then they may be quiet on their more embarrassing ideas.  

There is nothing on this planet more powerful than an individual with smart, truthful ideas, which are articulated well in writing or in speech. Having an opinion and being able to have the courage to express it gives you an opportunity to see the faults in yourself and/or the ideas you present due to the exposure to which you subjugate yourself. It allows you to be able to be clear with people on where you stand. So that you can articulate that if you are against diversity quotas, it doesn’t make you a racist. Or that you dont believe in social programs because you understand economics and not that you dont care for the poor. Or that your pro-life/pro-choice stance isn’t just because you dont care for the woman or the child. Its also important to express yourself to your loved ones, so they can understand you. In this life you cant expect people to be able to read your mind, and as a person you must understand that you cant read peoples minds. People are too politically correct nowadays.  They have this idea that they know exactly what you mean whenever you say anything thats even slightly politically incorrect. This is one of many reasons that being forward and expressive is important, because if you can articulate your ideas it is like you are giving someone a look into your mind, and this could lead to an understanding. Some people are so articulate, they are able to manifest what you are thinking into words even if you are unable to, and others are so articulate they can make you believe what they are saying no matter how terrible the viewpoint.  A really good example of an articulate person with crazy viewpoints is Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.  

  If you have an argument that stands the test of logic and reasoning, express it. If you have an argument that needs some thought put into it, express it to a friend or (god-forbid) an enemy, and allow them to dismantle it and explain why your argument needs some work. If you have a problem with someones argument let them know why, not for the sake of your own ego, but for the sake of the ideas they may potentially spread throughout the world. If someone has ideas which are harmful but are good intentioned, let them know the implications and the potential harm they unknowingly may bring into the world and society.  

Too many times in human history has disaster been brought upon the world with perpetrators claiming to have good intentions, and these disasters could have prevented if people spoke up. Dont think for one second that Apartheid, or the Nazis, the slaveholders and so on, didn’t have opinions they deemed were well intentioned and were brought on through the idea that racial identity is important. Dont think that the Communists and Socialists regimes dont commit the terrible atrocities of the past and present, which have led to at least 100 million deaths and counting, while believing in the philosophy of the equality of outcome, helping the poor, and punishing the rich. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But as individuals, we can prevent going to hell if we decide to be truthful and express ourselves clearly. Truth is another subject for another time, but truth cannot manifest itself without ones courage to manifest one’s own ideas. The only way a person can come towards what is true is to engage in a dialogue. At Acadia, and wherever we are, we should be able to engage in conversation without the fear of social persecution. And if we want to have true unity, we must be able to accept the views that each of us hold no matter where we are on the political spectrum, and no matter what color, religion, gender, or sexuality we are.  

  Be respectful and polite, and make it clear that the problem you have is with the ideas that a person has and not the individual person. In these situations, taking the moral high ground is important. Many people are very immature, so if you dismantle their argument they will take it personally and may treat you poorly.  But if your argument is articulated well and is logical, be comforted by the fact that it isnt because you did wrong that they reacted this way, but due to their own insecurities. You have to be stoic, so that you arent emotionally invested in an argument. Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, once said “People dont have ideas, ideas have people.” Its important to be able to detach yourself emotionally from an argument or idea. If you cant use logic and reason alone to formulate a defense of your argument and instead depend on emotion, theres a good chance you may get picked apart. Make sure your arguments are only based on logic and reason, that way you can be stoic and calm in engaging in a dialogue. The point I am trying to make is that dialogues should be kept civil, and if our dialogues can remain civil, respectful, and more productive, discussions will be able to take place.