I keep in my desk a copy of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. I re-read them occasionally to remind me of the great gifts I receive just by being an American. Today I want to talk about the Bill of Rights and specifically the First Amendment.
I won’t print the entire amendment but you will remember it as the “freedom of religion, press, speech and assembly” amendment. We, as Americans, have the right to express ourselves. We can have our opinions published for all the world to see. We have newspapers that publish their thoughts as well as ours. This is called the “Op-Ed” page, or opinion/editorial page. The paper has an opinion and writers offer their opinions. They often disagree. The page then becomes a discussion-of-issues page.
You will agree then there is a difference between monologue and dialogue. A speech is a monologue and a discussion is dialogue. When a writer offers a column he offers his opinion and thought – or a monologue. When a reader disagrees and offers a counterpoint, that becomes dialogue. We are blessed to have the freedom of expression that allows for such disagreements.
What happened in France was an attack on the freedom of speech and expression. While France doesn’t have a First Amendment, they still enjoy free speech and expression. The terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo have no interest in dialogue. They only want monologue. They believe you do not have the right to disagree. You do not have the right to your own opinion. Your only option is to obey.
Well, of course, that is never going to happen. Years ago there was a song that had a lyric, “How you gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Once reasonable, intelligent people have tasted freedom, they will never return to servitude. When you have breathed free air, any other condition chokes the life out of you. The primary reason radical Islamic terrorism will fail is the world will never return to the 12th Century. Along the way they will be an ongoing irritant. They will kill some people. They themselves will all die horrible deaths. Freedom will endure and freedom will reign. But it’s not now nor has it ever been free.
I welcome the opportunity to offer my opinion/monologue to this paper. I value equally your willingness to offer your thoughts/opinions both in agreement and in rebuttal. I am honored by the fact my thoughts are read and considered. Dialogue and discussion is the basic foundation of our democracy.
I think an excellent exercise for all would be to get a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and re-read them. They are easily available online. We all need to remind ourselves of the blessings we enjoy as Americans. We need to remind ourselves of the reasons we are who we are.
Dialogue, discussion and disagreement are the foundation by which we advance. They are the cornerstones of discovery.
“The world is flat.”
“No, it ‘s round and I am going to prove it.”
Disagreement leads to discovery.