Truthfully speaking

Photo by Peter Lewis on Unsplash

“Choosing to have integrity may cost us all that we have.”

Truthfulness, honesty, integrity, and other words which speak to upright living, are ones which ought to be encouraged for every human to possess. In last week’s article, the importance of integrity, being something for which we should continually strive, was the focus. The other point, and certainly no less compelling, was that while it seemingly appears to be disintegrating just about everywhere we look, endeavoring to maintain and cultivate our own was more imperative than denoting where it lacks in others. Truthfully speaking, there are complex and multifaceted issues when trying to define the true meaning of integrity.

The dictionary uses terms such as “having strong moral principles” and “moral uprightness,” and the moment the word “moral” is introduced into the conversation, there is no way to continue without raising red flags or opening the proverbial can of worms. My intentions are never to be construed as a commentary on what is right or wrong, or even moral or immoral. I have no desire to induce, encourage, or even prove that my perspective ought to be anyone’s sole criteria.

Nevertheless, there are some acts which uncategorically signify the nature of true integrity.

When a person puts his or her own well being at risk for the sake of others’ rights and dignity, that is an act of living on moral principle. When person’s fortune or reputation is jeopardized or sacrificed for the virtue and respect of another human, is there a higher bar to meet?

Two subjects which are always controversial are religion and politics; both of which have histories of demonizing and vilifying their opponents. However, when others stand up against their own religion in defense of what is perceived as a moral flaw in spite of the inevitable consequences, that takes courage as well as integrity. Going against the partisan ideals of your political cohorts in an effort not to trample the oppressed and downtrodden – knowing their future reputation is at stake – this takes a sense of fairness along with integrity. What both of these examples share is a humanitarian principle and concern for the welfare and good of someone else.

On rare occasions, I’ve been accused of impropriety merely for trying to help others. It’s disheartening. I often wish there were another opportunity to explain and make my intentions known but none have ever occurred. I cannot change what happened but I can learn from those moments to minimize them from occurring in future situations.

I know in my own heart what my true intentions are. My purpose for being on this planet will not be deterred by anyone’s accusations or actions. And, if during the course of my journey everything is taken from me, I’ll begin anew with the same optimism and enthusiasm which I share today.

It would not be fair to define my above statement as one of integrity since I have not found myself back at square one, and truthfully speaking, hope I never do. However, I am willing to take that risk daily if that’s what’s needed to help others.

Perhaps you or someone you know have lost everything because of choosing to have integrity. While I would not wish that on anyone – especially in the defense of others – ask yourself, would you make that choice? I’m not sure if there is a more sincere way of showing it.

My thanks to Peter Lewis on Unsplash for the wonderful photograph and I look forward to your comments.

The freedom to speak

Photo by m wrona on Unsplash

“The right to speak freely does not also guarantee you the right to be heard”

The right to free speech is protected in many countries and among those who fiercely uphold it the most is the United States of America. The first amendment primarily deals with this subject and many of its citizens defend that right even for those with whom they disagree. However, no matter how much freedom is granted, there are still limitations to what can be said or written.

As with any sovereign right, there is a measure of responsibility that comes along with it. Rights were not meant to be skewed in favor of some only to take advantage of others. The freedoms which they are meant to uphold were never established to give privileges to a few while enslaving others. They are rights to be equally shared by all; unless someone has abused that right and it has been stripped of him by the laws which provided them in the first place.

The right of free speech does not include hate speech, libel and slander, threats, or other rules of conduct which violate rights of people. If I want to get retaliation on someone, no matter how much that person may deserve it, I cannot use my right of free speech to spread lies or endanger the life of that person.

A lot of talk has been occurring lately about speaking up and not holding in your thoughts. Many great ideas have been pushed aside because the person behind that suggestion was too shy to say anything. Certainly that would have been a great time to exercise this right. On the other hand, there are those who you may wish had a little more of that shyness in their personalities. They brazenly blurt out any and everything that is on their minds no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. While it may be their “right” to do so, it can be annoying and somewhat of a selfish move.

Perhaps the most understated and under-considered aspect of freedom of speech is that this right does not come with a guarantee that you will be heard. While we all want our opinions to have as much validity as the next person’s, there is no law demanding people must listen or pay attention. Just because it’s your opinion does not guarantee you the right to be heard and to have more validity than others.

Experts in particular fields have earned the privilege for their opinions to hold more influence than others. Nevertheless, others not as educated still claim their opinion is better simply because it’s their opinion. In the end, this only shows they are exercising the right to display their own ignorance and arrogance.

Think for one moment. What if there were a law that we were required to give other people’s points of view the same amount of thoughtful consideration as we did ours. Although this would be impossible to regulate, in some ways isn’t that what freedom of speech boils down to? The right of free speech can be a strong defense for justice but it was certainly never meant to be used as a weapon against the vulnerable.Freedom of speech is not absolute and should never be taken for granted. It’s a reminder that even rights have restrictions and that we all are accountable for the way we use and interpret our freedoms. My thanks to M Wrona of Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

Freedom of speech is not absolute and should never be taken for granted. It’s a reminder that even rights have restrictions and that we all are accountable for the way we use and interpret our freedoms. My thanks to M Wrona of Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.