By Alan Sexton, Green Mountain Scribes
While we might not always agree with the rhetoric or expressions of others, as Americans, our intrinsic right to speak and otherwise express freely is nonetheless protected from governmental censorship within the First Amendment to the painstakingly created, ingenious, and timelessly applicable Constitution of the United States. This begs the question: are we always best served by exercising these rights?
Along with the rapid proliferation and ever-growing popularity of wonderfully interactive media such as blogs and other websites, and social media powerhouses such as Facebook comes the benefit of adding our “two cents” on the topics at hand-usually a good thing, but not always.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. ~ Variously attributed, sourced to Proverbs 17:28
Invariably, we all have read comments made on published articles on blogs and websites, and posts on social media sites that leave many among us stunned by the apparent willingness of others to, presumably unwittingly but nonetheless very effectively proclaim ignorance.
Now, for any who reactively take offense with my insertion of the word ignorance, please understand that, in context herein, I intend ignorance to mean an unwittingly permitted, but nevertheless apparent disinterest in acquiring knowledge or education. Plainly stated, I mean the act of anywhere commenting on a published or posted topic as if authoritative, yet the comment only and unfortunately conveying a knee jerk reaction to a headline rather than even remotely conveying any sound knowledge of, or even relevance to, the particular issue at hand.
An embarrassing and very public act of self-humiliation. Not that any among us are innocent of committing this foolish act at one time or another, I’ve done it too. Yet, like many others I long ago choose to make every effort to avoid the temptation to advertise myself to the world as an ignorant reactionary, a fool.
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. ~Samuel Johnson
Unfortunately, this very human but self-marginalizing tendency to offer uninformed knee jerk reactions to issues is only part of the problem. Likely, we have also observed and/or otherwise been subjected to self-marginalizing , self-humiliating, and wholly unconstructive instances of name-calling.
Understand that when we give in to our anger and attempt to personally insult others, whether aimed at sociopolitical leaders or those we are engaged in discourse with, we only make ourselves appear mean and foolish, subsequently and rightfully discounted by the vast majority of reasonable people. Name calling and otherwise personally insulting others is a hallmark of stupidity, or willful ignorance, and only debases the inherent dignity of insulter.
The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid. ~Author Unknown
No laws or even our individually and worthily made efforts will ever eradicate blissful ignorance or stupidity, and it is foolish to believe that such will. Still, we should always make every effort to do so, and this begins with each one of us prudently exercising self-restraint, and fostering within and responding to our very natural appetite for acquiring knowledge and then-and only then-constructively contribute to the public discourse our uniquely important perspectives which are then based on knowledge we have endeavored to acquire.