One of the blessings of living in this great country of ours is the freedom we have to say whatever we want without government stepping in to limit our expression. Many other countries are still fighting for this freedom and envy what we have.
Unfortunately, as we go about from day to day exercising this freedom of speech, we sometimes forget that having the freedom to say whatever we want does not extend to being rude about it. I enjoy using this blog as a medium to share my thoughts and feelings, and I'm entitled to do so because of the Constitution. However, the Constitution does not defend my right to call people names or blast them for their own beliefs -- that's because I don't have that right.
Freedom of speech does not negate the responsibility we each have as members of the human family to treat each other with respect. I might not agree with my Uncle Herman's politics, and I might tell him so, but that disagreement doesn't give me the right to attack him or his stand. I can tell him how I feel and we can enter into a lively debate about our differing positions, but personal attacks just aren't part of the deal.
Perhaps you know where I'm heading with this, which is to the topic of flaming comments on blogs. I find it interesting that we're all ready to cheer on the cause of freedom of speech until someone disagrees with us. I can't tell you how many times I've visited someone's blog, read an interesting post in which they put forth their thoughts or ideas on a topic, to find a string of commenters saying things like, "You're infringing on our rights by saying this." And when the owner of the blog expresses their belief that they have the right to share their opinions, the commenter replies, "But what about freedom of speech?"
Apparently, it's only freedom of speech if we agree with certain people.
As for myself, I'm a Mormon. I'm a woman. I'm a stay-at-home mom. I homeschool. I'm a Republican. I'm pro-life. I'm in favor of the war on terror. I support the Word of Wisdom, modesty, and driving mini-vans full of children. Yet whenever I speak up in defense of these things, I invariably get comments -- "You're a sheep. You're just following everyone else. You're not capable of independent thought."
On the other hand, when I hear someone talk about their rights to abortion, they are praised for being forward-thinking individuals.
Is it not possible that I decided for myself, as an individual, that I wanted to raise a mini-van full of children and vote Republican? I certainly did -- no one forced me in to that. It wasn't as if there was a flock of sheep running past and I looked out the window and said, "Look! Sheep! Must. Run. With. Them." No, the decisions I've made, I've made with my eyes wide open, my free will intact. And I speak about them. Often.
We're given choices in our lives. We choose, every minute of every day, how to live our lives. Your choices might not be the same as mine. You might choose to say different things than I say. But I hope that one of the choices we can both agree to make is to disagree politely, without attacking each other's intelligence or belitting. We should have more dignity than that.