I was dealing with a project today involving multiple players with diverse views and a fair amount of baggage, when it was suggested by one that further discussion should occur away from the group, privately, although the matter concerned the entire group. Usually, this happens when someone is disagreed with and doesn’t want everyone to see that, or worse, he or she senses dissent and is forming an “enemy camp”. I began thinking that this behavior has become common from the heights of government power, to the television networks and often when religious or social issues are involved. It helps not the world at large and surely not our animals and vulnerable classes as it is a form of discourse that accomplishes nothing but petty score setting with the stated goal becoming an excuse for a fight rather than an achievement.
Trying to force people to stop sharing opinions publicly, whether via a list serve, news program, schoolroom or Twitter should shock our collective conscience. We can all choose to agree or not, participate on a list serve or not, watch a program or not, donate, tweet, protest or not. We can participate in any project or not. We cannot, ever, shut each other up.
On this Veterans Day I ask all of you to stop trying to hide comments that you disagree with, stop trying to silence the dissemination of information that you don’t want to hear, and honor the freedoms that we have that allow us to both brawl and hug in public. These are the freedoms for which our veterans fought, and continue to sacrifice their time, health and lives. Saying “thank you for your service” or “our prayers are with you” is a nice easy social conceit that honors them not at all if we squander our freedoms and their valiant efforts to protect them.