We all know about our much-heralded freedom of speech, but how about we take a little freedom from speech. Let’s stop talking so much. We have a right to bear out our grievances; but in the over 200 years since that right was granted, we have found way too much to be aggrieved about. We have a battle in our culture over self-accountability, but unfortunately it seems we are losing this battle before we can even define the sides. Our culture has been inundated by a victim mentality where we beat the drums for our first amendment freedoms while denying them to anyone and everyone else who has even a slightly different opinion than us. We hide under a myriad of semantics to declare why we are right to voice our opinion but protected from the “evils” of anyone else’s.
With the holidays approaching, the first amendment right of how to properly greet someone during this season becomes a politically correct minefield littered with the grievances of those who have chosen incorrectly over the past few years. Do you say “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukah” or just quickly run out of the room and avoid eye contact with anyone you may encounter? Will someone be offended if you say “Merry Christmas” if they are fans of neither Jesus nor Santa? If you say “happy holidays,” will someone be offended that you are now somehow denying the deity of Christ and spewing hate all over the tradition of Rudolph and his motley crew?
Case in point: Right now there is a much-heated debate over a coffee shop’s right to serve whatever kind of cup they would like to any customers who freely decide to partake of their particular brand of coffee. Whether a coffee cup at a secular business decides to put a snowflake or the entire Lord’s Prayer on their cups should not be a matter of public debate with uncontrolled emotion on either side. Some cry don’t take my Christ out of YOUR coffee, while the other says keep YOUR faith out of my frappuccino! Either way we look at it, either enjoy a delicious unmarked cup of overpriced coffee and decide your faith is bigger than a partially recyclable beverage container or its not…and that issue lies solely with you and your insecurities. On the other hand, a West Coast hamburger chain likes to subtly place scripture references on the bottom of their fry wrappers, and some have decided that a boycott is absolutely essential to protect their delicate hearts from overt religious fanaticism. Similarly to example one…relax…take a breath…enjoy a nice fresh hamburger with an assortment of secret toppings or maybe its just time for you to go vegan!
While most would agree there are things in this world in desperate need of our first amendment freedom…of speech, let’s all try to agree that we need to grant ourselves a new and in some ways even more important freedom…from speech!
So during this holiday season, let’s relax and just greet our fellow man with kindness in whatever way seems appropriate. Let’s not allow our perceived Constitutional right to be offended by any and everything lead us even further down the path of a “pursuit of unhappiness.” We have much to be thankful for, much of that given to us by the freedoms we enjoy. As President Washington stated in his farewell address: “The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.“ So to paraphrase our 1st President and Father of our country: "Chill people, don’t take yourself so seriously and enjoy a nice refreshing tall half-caff, soy latte 5 pumps vanilla at 120 degrees with extra whip!”