Constitutions over the world have given their citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right but are we really free to express?
You think we are? What did you feel when you heard of the Charlie Hebdo attack? The whole world condemned the act and showed solidarity in standing up for the right of freedom of expression. As much as I was disturbed,it was only recently that I realized that there are many more threats to the freedom of expression,threats that linger around us,within the confines of our homes and some that we harbour in our hearts.
-Have you ever wanted to shout 'Get out' to the snobby aunt who visited only to belittle your mom but stayed quiet for your mother's sake?
-Have you ever had a strong opinion against a proselytiser but kept mum just because a highly respected family member/friend was a staunch believer?
-Have you ever wanted to tell that 'boss' to open his eyes and see the world as what it is and not what he wants it to be but then just swallowed the urge in order to retain your job?
-Have you ever just wanted to ignore an issue and avoid argument .....but were labelled weak?
There are so many things that we mean but do not say...
There are so many that we are made to utter when we just want to be quiet.
When a friend was eve teased,she caught hold of the culprit and handed him over to the police. I salute her.Ironically,there were people advising her to hush it up and not make it public.
During OBG residency,a woman started lamenting her daughter-in-law for the daughter she bore minutes ago,I felt like giving her a piece of my mind but was asked to 'concentrate on my work' instead by the teacher.
So,I ask....where is the freedom of speech and expression?
Ask the experts and they say...you have the freedom of speech and expression but not the freedom to offend.
I get confused... 'Get out' will offend the aunt.... 'Wrong number' will offend someone in the family/friend circle ..'Open your eyes' will offend the boss....suing the eve-teaser and slamming the gender biased MIL will offend.....SOMEONE! If you get frustrated of all this and decide to just shut the Hell up,you might be deemed ambivalent.
Who shall define 'offend'? How do you speak your mind without the danger of offending someone else?
I think the safest way out is to ask before you say anything...'Do you mind?'
Do you mind sir,if I speak out my mind?
Do you mind if I don't share your religious beliefs and reply in polite affirmation every time you advocate the ideology I find ridiculous?
Do you mind if I please ask you to shut up and not tell me to keep quiet when someone harasses me?
Do you mind if I tell you that you are an idiot when despite being a woman you abuse another for bearing a girl child?
Do you mind if I choose to not speak when I think the issue is not worth fighting for?
Maybe if the AIB guys also asked this from each and everybody before the knockout,they might have saved their skin...maybe! That's a laugh as it just is not possible.There is an alarming and steep decline in tolerance levels in general.
Language was invented to make communication easier. We humans probably started at one and now have about 6500 spoken languages in the world. Even when we communicate in one,there are different interpretations to the same sentence. We even have 'double meaning' words...Sometimes I feel animals are better off having communication system only for urgency and emergencies.
Why do we get offended so easily?
Is it so important to react? Is it mandatory to lash out every time someone's sentiment contradicts yours?
Is it possible that we can express ourselves and dare to differ?
Can I say out loud what I feel and be sure that you shall not come after me with a gun or the sword of your tongue to reciprocate?
I shall be sure to ask before I say anything....
'Do you mind?'