"After I resigned from The New York Times over the summer for their hostility to free speech and open inquiry, I began to hear almost daily from such people. Their notes to me sound like missives smuggled out of a totalitarian society.
The passage above is from the article, The self-silencing majority. It is a great read. I was especially struck by it because it is a topic I wrote about recently. Ironically, I changed the word “censorship” to “sense-or-ship” in an attempt to outsmart Facebook algorithms that are increasingly censoring alternative points of view or diminishing the reach of people posting about controversial issues. I posted the following on August 6, 2020:
I can now look back on my life and remember times that I self-censored. I simply didn't speak up even though I had a very different view point or sometimes I purposely mislead the people I was with - I didn't actually lie, but I said things that led them to believe something about me that wasn't true.
I really feel that the most important "issue" of our time is learning to have hard conversations with people that are "different" from us. Over this past year I've lost one of my best friends because she thinks my beliefs are dangerous and irresponsible. Ironically, I had been open with her about our family's choices regarding vaccinations and we had kept our friendship alive for years in spite of our different beliefs. However, she was never willing to actually have the tough conversations about the topic even though I was ready to do so. When 2020 happened our friendship couldn't survive anymore.
I tried opening conversations with family too. I was again shut down. One family member said they didn't want to allow negatives into our relationship.
But for me, the negative is there now. I know how angry people are about people who dare to question our vaccine practices. I know because both of those people told me and reacted angrily. They say that they love and support my family and they just want to ignore the issue but is it really love and support if you have to hide and ignore parts of yourself? Is it love and support when people support government policies coercing your family into an unwanted medical intervention? Is that tolerance? Right now people like me are being portrayed in a way that is making others increasingly intolerant of me and my family. It is scary.
Consider the following passage from a great article written by a UVA student about tolerance:
"Tolerance is a two way street. We can scream all we want about the oppression of LGBTQ+ individuals at U.Va., but the fact remains — in Charlottesville, I have seen more hate and slander for reasonable conservative beliefs than I ever have about my sexuality. All struggles that come with identifying as non-cisgender and non-heterosexual are valid. However, we must start respecting everyone’s existence, as long as they are not causing harm — whether or not we agree with their political beliefs, their lifestyle or their religion. Respecting someone’s existence does not entail instantaneously slandering their character when they stray from our world view. This reaches far beyond my roommate — it is troubling behavior I see every day on Grounds. Consider this — nearly half of the electorate voted for Donald Trump. Do we really believe that half the country is comprised of genuinely hateful people?
We need to start listening to each other. We need to have the tough conversations. We needed to have them long ago, but since we didn't, today will have to suffice.
I’ll close with a quote from my beautiful and wise daughter:
“I think people need to learn how to disagree better.”
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.