True freedoms are part of the reason we leave the islands to take root in these foreign lands. From our homes where we are physically free but there are still colonialist undertones, the US, Canada and the UK seem to offer the greener grass of freedom to earn greater income and achieve much greater social status.
One of the freedoms our new first world homes tout above all others is the right to free speech. And while it’s a lovely idea, being able to say whatever is on your mind without fear of retribution seems to still be just an idea. The practice of indiscriminately free speech may have made sense before we knew that there were folks willing to strap bombs on and die to avenge the disrespect of their revered leaders, but now it’s getting another look.
There are religious radicals all over the world, both Christian and Muslim, who take their piety fueled discrimination to the extreme. But while those who are pathological will not be swayed from their missions of mayhem for any reason, it seems that if we would balance freedom of speech with respect and reverence for such things as religion, some of the heinous attacks of recent years might have been avoided.
Where some of us are from, there are folks who will end you just because you’ve accidentally stepped on someone’s toe. So those of us who care about ourselves and our families continuing to breathe may speak freely, but we’re careful who we offend. Even without threat of bodily harm, we’re mostly old fashioned when it comes to good manners. Sadly, in the first world fight for free speech, it seems that good manners got lost in the fray. We know that blurring the lines between free speech and disrespect may cost you your life. Sadly, more developed countries are now experiencing that reality in the worst of ways.
In light of recent events I think many of us would wonder, though you revere your right to free speech above all things, why scream at a hungry sleeping bear?
Calibe Thompson is a personality, author and the producer of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly. For your free preview of her 2015 collection of writings, Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say, visit www.calibe.net