Value your Free Speech- Sting and All!



Written by Sally Sumner

From the Editors desk

Value your Free Speech – Sting and All!

I’m writing this on deadline day, we print in four hours, and someone in their wisdom has decided to waterblast the office roof, think bees, many, many bees all angry and upset, disturbed and buzzing and desperate to get into your head. That is what is sounds like, not very convivial to last minute creative morsels for heroic headlines and inspiring sentences. It did though get me thinking about how we can choose to react to situations as a people. Situations that perhaps we don’t like or disagree with.

Quite often there is a piece on social media that is posted to gain attention and solve an issue for the individuals or group involved. Inevitably, gaining attention is what happens, good and bad, through firstly friends, then friends of friends and finally in some cases, the media gets on the bandwagon and throws the ‘story’ a lifeline of legitimacy and publishes it as ‘news’. Along the way, others choose to comment and share their opinion about what is happening. Social Media is our new weapon in our social conscience battle.

A social conscience is defined as being "a sense of responsibility or concern for the problems and injustices of society". There is certainly no shortage of those at the moment and no shortage of those wanting to exercise their conscience, share their opinion and solve the issue. It is how they go about it that can create the issue and inflame a situation.

We are all intitled to have an opinion about something, and that opinion is ours to decide what to do with. If something happens to disturb our opinion about something, similarly to something disturbing a nest of bees, then we will react. How we choose to react can heavily influence the course of events. If we react without thinking, as a bee does when someone unprepared disturbs a swarm of hive, it stings. A bee sting is painful. For some people it is a minor irritation, some react with a form of allergy and for some it can have fatal consequences. Likewise, for the bee, as after it has lost it sting, a bee pays the ultimate price with its life.

The beauty of the honey bee though is that it, like us, is also a member of a community where all community members have a valued role. Without the worker bees, the hive would not function, without a queen bee, the hive would not exist. Similar to the honey bee, our own opinions are as important as our roles within society and valuing the roles and opinions of others equally so. We must not be afraid or discouraged from discussing these opinions because of a few who react in a way to damage and hurt the messenger instead of creating their own knowledge path and sharing their considered opinion. It goes back to that time-honoured saying, think before you speak.

If we were to all engage in a little more thought before we spoke, our community hive would be a far more settled place.