“The freedom of speech may be taken away—and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”
On March 15, 1783 George Washington addressed the officers of the Army during his Newberry Address essentially saying that mutiny was not the answer in response to a petition of protest that was proposed if Congress did not provide them with the promised pay and pensions they deserved. He went on to say he supported their freedom to express their opinions and reminded them what they were truly fighting for: their freedom. You see, this all occurred at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War against the British. And although we do have our freedom today, it is still something we need continue ensure that it is equitable for all have as one nation under God.
George Washington’s quote reminds us that without freedom of speech what does out society actually have? By having it, it allows us express our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs as we choose. It opens the doorway to limitless opportunities to be had by all. It’s freedom to say what is on our mind without reservation or fear of being persecuted for what is said or at least it is what should be. Now all of this should be done and expressed within reason as long as it does not degrade anyone and upholds the 4 essential principles and actionable steps of what it means to be being socially aware: perspective-taking, empathy, appreciating diversity and respecting others.
We are living in times where I think that our freedom of speech is being criticized and threatened because if someone tries to express how they are feeling they seem to be rung through the ringer. This is most definitely seen when their opinion goes against the grain of someone else’s. If we have to continually regulate things as to what is being spoken by us we begin to lose our own authenticity and in essence we lose a piece of who we are and what we stand for in the process. We need to remember it is ok to have a differences in opinion from someone else and it is all on how we react to others and their differing viewpoints is what is key. We can respectively disagree and say it in a respectful way, but instead often times we see people fire back at one another in an angry and disparaging tone. What type of role models are we for our children if we can not express out opinions in a civil matter and personally attack one another? Our children are taught in school ways in which they are to talk to one another respectively when having a discussion and if they aren’t exhibiting it, the teacher takes the time to have them practice that because its important. Maybe some of the adults need to go back to school and take a course called Manners 101. If we are not careful and stop trying to put roadblocks in the way of people and their freedom of speech, we will be the next to be led like sheep to the slaughter as a truly free society. And this an image I cannot bear to see come to fruition. We need to stop this madness now. Empathize don’t criticize. Our future is depending on it.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards becoming more socially aware?