By JAQUELINE WIGHTMAN
Freedom of speech is very important in this day in age. It lets people know who you are as well as giving you a chance to voice your opinion.
But there are ways freedom of speech can hurt other people, for example, by discrediting the existence of others, such as when people believe or say “being gay is a choice,” or by using what you are good at to make others feel insignificant.
Voicing opinions is a good thing. It can make people feel seen, and bringing up important topics that aren’t talked about enough can help people move forward. But often freedom of speech is used to put others down and arouse suspicion on perfectly normal things. Often, rousing suspicion is a perfectly normal response to being scared or not knowing how to ask the right questions, but nowadays with the internet the people who like creating chaos are using that fear and spreading it without consequence for themselves.
For example, there is a lot of suspicion about COVID. Part of how conspiracies are made is from people being scared for their lives, not understanding how to ask the right questions as well as not understanding that this is a real and serious pandemic. There are also people who use the common fear of the unknown and feed it for their own amusement or, some individuals don’t want to be scared alone so they try to drive people against everyone else.
We as a world right now need to be empathetic and caring. This is a major issue right now, just like so many. We need to listen to all sides of each story and understand that not everything we have been taught is true. The world is full of the unknown and we need to discover it together as one world, and that takes understanding, patience and change.
Freedom of speech is a very positive thing if used correctly. It can help spread awareness and knowledge for the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour issues that keep occurring. But the privileged people or people in power generally shut those kinds of things down. I am not saying privileged people are bad, I am saying there is generally an ignorance that goes with privilege.
We need to use the knowledge we have and compassion to teach what we know to others who don’t understand. This world is a confusing place and we need people in power to help everyone come together and create a better world.
The writer is a Grade 10 student at GISS.
What a timely and articulate reminder of our obligations to fostering a civil society, Jaqueline. Thank-you!