Monday, September 03, 2012

The Freedom of Speech in Troubled Times

We the people of the United States of America seem to have lost our way. 

While it is true we stand far apart on the issues that face our troubled nation, what I find troubling is our inability to have an open dialogue about what is most important. It is not the first time in our history the people have been at odds, nor is it the last, but I am finding the recent loss of civility to be distressing.

For those of you who don’t know me well, or at all, I am a typical baby boomer. An odd combination of Janis Joplin, The Monkees and Stevie Wonder form the soundtrack of my early years. The Vietnam War, civil rights, space travel and Andy Griffith helped shape me.

My father was a career military man, a proud NCO in the US Air Force, and I was raised on domestic military installations.  I always stand for our National Anthem and am appalled by those who cheer at ball games before the song is over. I cringe at tattered flags flapping on car windows and have been known to stop workmen taking down a flag at the end of the day, asking them to fold it properly. 

I went to 12 schools before I finished, but claim North Dakota as my childhood home. New York City has been my home for most of my adult life. I tread the boards in NYC and sang with my band in CBGBs. I spent 20 years hard time working with litigators. Now, I am a writer and real estate broker extraordinaire.

I am a woman.

I am a patriot.

I am a liberal.

I am a believer in freedom of expression and the freedom to organize and the First Amendment, which says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose, gun control and gay marriage. You can disagree with me but you cannot judge me.

I have been called foolish.

I have been threatened.

I have been called un-American.

I was raised to believe that it was my civic duty to question my leaders and to honor and protect those that that disagree with me.  While I would never burn a flag, my father defended and I support the right of those who feel it is a necessary form of protest.  We need to try to understand and not to stand in judgment of each other. Disagreeing with the GOP does not make me un-American. In fact, my right to do so is American.

We are tweeting and texting and updating our Facebook statuses to stand in judgment of others. I love having a forum to express my opinion and where I can see opposing points of view.

We are so divided; I doubt we will ever win over the opposing side. Yet, I am hopeful we will make an effort to at least understand the other point of view and stop the ridiculous name-calling and condescension. Come November 7th we will still be neighbors.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.