The First Amendment
The First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The first amendment, as with the rest of the Bill of Rights, truly is inspiring, touching, and god-given. Never before had a nation or group created, litigated, and enforced the free exercise of speech, the press, and religion as the United States did, and still does. Never before has a society had the rights we have today, and that’s something to be incredibly grateful for.
I don’t appreciate it when people complain about, make light of, or even mock, some of the profound history of the United States. The same goes with its current existence. I hear students around me, at least weekly, utter dumb and ignorant things about the United States, politics, policies, America, and American ideas. It’s unfortunate (it really is unfortunate) that their words aren’t dumb and ignorant because I think so - they’re ridiculous because so many students have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, have no substantial political knowledge, credible literature to reference, or experience that can be thoroughly articulated to support their often ideological ridden ideas.
Don’t even think that I’m claiming that I do have substantial knowledge, because I’m not! For quite a while now I’ve been spending a considerable amount of my time, much more than I’ve done in my life, trying to become more learned in classic and renowned literature and engaging in schools of thought on different ideas. But before, and still through this I’ve always been skeptical - of others of course, but possibly even more of myself! I understand that my words have power, as do everyone’s, and believe that power should not be taken lightly. It doesn’t mean I refrain from everything either because that wouldn’t do me or anyone else good. But I try to be engage in topics that I really do feel confident in, and I’ve noticed I’m confident in those topics because I’ve considered so many schools of thought on them.
What’s perhaps even more interesting is that this confidence is unlike any form of confidence I’ve felt before, and perhaps didn’t even know existed until I embarked on this route of engaging more. It’s no longer just a confidence that I’m right and know more than the other, no no no. It’s a confidence that comes from awareness on a subject that only exists because you’ve considered so many thoroughly articulated ideas, and this confidence allows you to be more open to other perspectives than you otherwise might be. Incredibly, I’ve been learning so much on how to talk about seriously controversial things, personal or political, without spite or retort. Knowledge, truly, is a moving force.
There’s more I’d love to share on this, but I’m waiting for some references to get in. Next week I want to talk more about the how the First Amendment is manifest, perhaps in a business environment, and particularly under the term, “Defamation”. Defamation is a concept that seeks to balance out free speech so that people can still be protected from being “defamed”.
Share your thoughts below! Whatever they are, I’d love to hear them.
Peterson, J.P. (2018) 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Canada: Penguin Random House.