I’m so pleased that people have been sharing their opinion about a recent editorial in The Standard. This is what a newspaper is about: Freedom of speech and stimulating conversation around actual concerns people share in the population. Occasionally an editorial may even put forth conjecture on a possible solution for the dilemma of others. And we will always respect the right of people to say what’s on their minds. There is no threat or fear from a difference of opinion. It is stimulating and healthy, and part of a mature society.
Unfortunately, some people choose to express themselves in an unhealthy way by trying to attempt to circumvent open dialogue and genuine efforts to connect with the ideas their neighbours hold. Some try to portray the intentions of others with a different motive than what has been expressly stated. During the stress and insecurity around Covid, many people’s lives have felt more out of control. This is understandable, as it has been a bit of a whammy for all of us. Questions arise; for some about vaccinations, and an effort to offer solution-oriented thinking, in this regard, is healthy.
A word of caution: When an opinion is shared which may disagree with one you have, allow yourself the strength, around the civility of difference, to gain new insights. It is the greatest thing our society enjoys.
Our fore-parents set out to create a nation with the protection of speech and the healthy recognition of difference and opinion. Never for the simple sake of being contrary, that’s unhealthy conduct, but for sharing from sincerely held preestablished convictions about life. As was the case for those represented when we brought their question about barriers to vaccines to the forefront. It’s important a healthy society never make its citizens feel insecure about asking questions, sharing opinions and offering potential schools of thought for solution.
Expressing an opinion with a view to a solution, as inclusively as possible, is the very nature of freedom of speech and should always be encouraged. Even if the opinion is not what’s expected, this is not fear-mongering but rather dialogue. Engaging in this manner wards off hate speech: But being angry at the world is not freedom of speech. We need to hear others and share our perspective, with a view toward understanding and acceptance; this honours people and teaches our children well.
The real concern is the surge of reactionary behaviour surfacing as a reflection of pandemic-related issues. People are struggling with personal insecurity, and some are acting out towards others instead of engaging with empathy to find solution.
The Bible offers some helpful insights. In Ephesians 4:22-27 (NIV) it states: “(22) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self [the troubled way of doing things], which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; (23) to be made new in the attitude of your minds; (24) and to put on the new self, created to be like God [who moves] in true righteousness and holiness [sobriety and equity]. (25) Therefore, each of you must [in order to clear this harm out] put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body [socially]. (26) In your anger do not sin [don’t have the intention to harm anyone deliberately]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry [as unresolved issues tend to lock in anxiety], (27) and do not give the devil a foothold. [In this case hatred, prejudice, and attacks on free speech.]
We would be wise to heed the sound psychological instruction in this scripture.
In the Jan/Feb issue of Reader’s Digest, an article called “Minority Report” addressed mounting hate crime against people of Asian heritage. This resulted from destructive, reactive responses by perpetrators who oversimplified and painted a diverse people group with the same brush, particularly holding Chinese Canadians collectively responsible for Covid. You can read the article to see constructive solution. It’s remarkable how open, healthy communication can solve so much.
In our Canadian identity, it has never appeared we’ve had a serious problem with prejudice. My own loved ones are of Asian heritage; my sister-in-law works in government, and my daughter-in-law works in the pharmaceutical industry.
Sidenote: With regards to the reference to medical personnel in a recent editorial: We affirm, at The Standard, we believe our medical personnel are doing their best to heal and save lives with their approach to healing, as we have asserted throughout this pandemic and gratefully before.
The difference between a desire for freedom of expression and a desire for freedom of oppression comes down to whether a perspective is shared in an effort to find a way to bring differences to a more inclusive place and different viewpoints are shared only to illustrate this need, or to point out difference to encourage separation. If that turns to an attempt to intimidate people, that’s not in the realm of solution, and not what we sanction in Canada. Instead, discussing the issues, with an understanding all people always have a right to retain their viewpoint, deflates the idea of dominating another, and focuses on interaction and value.
Increased stress can stimulate people toward thinking and doing things they would never have. I choose to believe this acting out in prejudice is something which Canadians would normally be able to deal with in the quietness of their own soul [Psalm 4:4]. It would never have reached through and grabbed our society until the complications of Covid.
This is what we have always been about here at The Standard, the good news focus with accountability, as those who have read our paper can attest to. We have tried to offer a different but encouraging perspective, taking from the good things of our heritage and the issues of our present population, to provide hope and a forward-looking approach to life.