Myth of freedom of speech

Speech is a blessing

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Praise for Preserving Oneness of Humanity

An uplifting read, “Preserving Oneness of Humanity” contains pearls of wisdom and a perspective that is missing from the discourse on human and planetary development…V. M. Gopaul describes oneness as the “new frontier of our collective consciousness”…The premise of the book is simple yet profound…racism is not innate but is a disease which can be “caught” during early childhood from the social environment and is expressed as a learned behavior; as such, it can also be eradicated through the development of spiritual, intellectual and emotional capacities.  

– Jean Parker Ph.D.

This book is intended as an antidote to throwing up one’s hands in despair. He wrote it…out of a sense of urgency. He feels that there is a desperate need for these ideas and solutions. –Ed de Jong

Unlike so many doom and gloom books written today, this book is a breath of fresh air with positive solutions for the future and good news about our successful achievements as people and nations of planet Earth.

–Saundra Arnold.

V.M Gopaul devotes time towards keeping his readers informed about the root of social injustice—leading to violence and racist acts. Convincingly, the writer shows that inside each human being lies an instinct which has both evil and good qualities. –Vimal Kodai

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: Golden Rule  1

CHAPTER 2: Power of Oneness, A personal story  5

CHAPTER 3: One Thousand Paper cranes   13

CHAPTER 4: One Good Deed Pays Big Dividends  17

CHAPTER 5: Freedom of Speech  23

CHAPTER 6: Riches of Oseola  31

CHAPTER 7: Racism is a Disease  37

CHAPTER 8: What is Race?  45

CHAPTER 9: How do we eradicate racism?  53

CHAPTER 10: Racists come in all colors  59

CHAPTER 11: Power of forgiveness  65

CHAPTER 12: Tribalism won’t last forever, thank God  73

CHAPTER 13: Who is telling the truth?  81

CHAPTER 14: A glimpse of compassion after arson at Mosque in Peterborough  89

CHAPTER 15: Ever expanding consciousness  95

CHAPTER 16: PURE LOVE IN A BOX  105

CHAPTER 17: The king and the dervish, Attachment to identity, religion, and wealth  115

CHAPTER 18: Erasing hatred one power wash at a time  123

CHAPTER 19: Institutions Under Attack  129

CHAPTER 20: The power of courage  139

CHAPTER 5: Freedom of Speech

Have you noticed that the quality of dialogue has spiraled downward in the last few years? Leaders of our time, including politicians, celebrities, and comedians, are hurling insults on TV shows, social media, and other platforms of discourse. Shockingly, they are educated and have enormous power to influence many of us.

Before going further, let me tell you that, in my family, conversation is of the highest quality, done with great respect of one another’s thoughts and opinions, with no foul language ever used. My wife and I have set this high standard for our children since they could talk. Now adults, they still don’t use foul language at all. In fact, their friends also abide by the same high quality of speech.

Why is conversation deteriorating in society? After reflection on freedom and quality of speech, I am sharing my thoughts on this issue.

Among the millions of species sharing our planet, only humans can utter or write words. This is not an accident but pre-ordained by the Great Designer.

This great distinction of advanced communication capacity bestowed to humans only is a divine gift. Actually, it is our sacred right to express thoughts and feelings through spoken and written words. Its importance has also been acknowledged by the thinkers and shapers of our modern time, mainly in countries where modernity has been firmly established. Consequently, freedom of speech is enshrined in the constitutions of these countries as a fundamental human right. This freedom is one foundation of democracy. 

Words coming from one’s mouth can either be sweet or sour to a listener. The tongue can be a smoldering fire or a blessing of encouragement. Human utterance can be an instrument to inspire others to a greater level of achievement, and it can also be a weapon to dehumanize others. Speech is so powerful it can instill both fear and hope in others. Considering the influence of words, we must remind ourselves that each of us has the freedom to either elevate our conversation or debase the self and others. The choice is ours to make. 

Therefore, on which side of the ledger would one like to be: harmful or beneficial to others? No one enjoys mistreatment. As mentioned in post 1, therefore, according to the Golden Rule, we should choose our speech with extra care lest we offend someone.

In the West, we take freedom of speech for granted, but in many other parts of the world, this liberty is not a citizen’s right. Criticizing the head of the state could be a criminal offense. Or commenting on a certain religious belief can be considered blasphemy, punishable by death.

In a democratic system, there is a recognition of balance; thus, there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. There are laws against defamation and hate speech. Checks and balances are necessary for the beneficial uses of this freedom in the onward development of societies.

Anger, frustration, and outrage are emotions that make us lash out at someone. On the other hand, tact, wisdom, and empathy are counterweights in tense and conflicting interactions.

Disagreements happen over politics and religion—two very contentious issues of our time. Pierre Trudeau, the late prime minister of Canada, had a great piece of advice for his son. He said, “Justin, never attack the individual. We can be in total disagreement with someone without denigrating them as a consequence.”

“Silence is golden” is a cliché, but it has great value. Saying nothing, sometimes, is a sign of self-discipline and wisdom. Restraint must be exercised out of strength, not weakness. Disclosure is not always timely nor suitable for the listener.

In this age of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, freedom of speech is morphing into a weapon of mass destruction. At our disposal, we have the ultimate venue for expression which did not exist just decades ago. One tweet can easily reach hundreds of millions of viewers within seconds. One can use these tools for any purpose, including harassment, cyber-bullying, destroying a reputation, pushing someone to suicide, and humiliating. With every disparaging post, civility drops one notch. Unfortunately, it is a growing trend.

Should we shut vulgarity down? The answer is, not if we want to preserve the sacred right of freedom of speech. One way to combat this trend is for concerned citizens not to participate in it and hope civility will return. The Wild West atmosphere of the Internet is part of its infancy, and we must be patient until it reaches maturity.

In our modern age, although education and technology have created fertile grounds for expression, they have also created tribes of certain beliefs. Tribal wars are waged among believers and deniers of climate change, affiliates of alt-right and alt-left on the political spectrum, globalists and populists, and so on. A healthy clash of opinions is good, from which a spark of truth will emerge. The danger point is when these beliefs reach a fanatical fervor. Respect is the key.

One of my friends believes that the Earth is flat, another one is convinced that life on Earth will disappear by the end of this century, and yet another one is betting on reincarnation. I don’t agree with any of them. Yet, in our conversation, we never burn the wall of civility. Love and respect are always the overriding factors.

A man came to our house to do plumbing during the renovation of a toilet room. In his conversation, he dropped the f-bomb with every second word. Soon he realized that my wife and I were not responding to him in a vulgar manner. His choice of words changed, and after a couple of hours interacting with him, he completely upgraded his quality of speech. Otherwise, he was friendly and did a good job. Without prejudice, I recommended him to my daughter to fix a leaky bathtub.

What does freedom of speech have to do with the oneness of humanity? When we can freely express our aspirations, problems, injustices, fears, accomplishments, and ideas in a frank and friendly manner, regardless of political affiliations, gender, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs, it is a sure recipe to bind all mankind together. In contrast, at this very moment, the claws of divisiveness are ripping humankind apart.

Before this ideal can be realized, we must acknowledge that freedom of speech is our basic human right and every human being must be given equal opportunity. To be heard is one of the most beautiful human experiences.

Sometimes freedom comes with limits, and it is a good thing. For example, a driver finds the freedom to go through the streets of London when everyone on the road is obeying the traffic laws. Without this common understanding, traveling through any city would be impossible. Some rules, such as discipline, tact, respect, and balance, can elevate the quality of our interacting with others. In doing so, we create a great society in which we can collectively enjoy peace, find harmony, and recognize our strength in working together for a common destiny.

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