About Speaking Freely

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge.  It requires no accountability, no understanding.  The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.  It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” ~ Bill Bullard

This site is dedicated to building conversational skills.  For generations now, Americans have followed that hard-and-fast societal rule of avoiding politics and religion in our daily conversations.  We’ve chosen to surround ourselves with like-minded people.  In so doing, we have failed to teach our children the skills required for civil discourse.  We now have elected officials who take office with an agenda, with none of the essential skills in conversation or compromise which make effective legislation possible.  Our political system is in serious trouble, and few of us have the tools needed to help her through these troubled times.

As a society, we have always disagreed.  Many would argue that America is made up of a lot of disagreeable people.  An essential component of self-government is the ability to meet up with others who do not share our view, find common ground, and work together for the common good.

The youth of today are tomorrow’s senators and presidents, and we are not giving them the skills they need to self-govern.  No amount of positive teaching in the schools can counteract the poisoned language they read daily on Facebook and Twitter.  Even high school debate champions are not immune from the negative impact of the verbal bullying and social tirades they witness from the adults in their lives.  Every time we use demeaning language, we set an example.  In a million small ways, our insulting words teach our young people to be bullies.

These days, it seems that Americans everywhere are yelling at each other.  Turn on the television, and you’ll find “news” programs that are forums for discussion, but participants raise their voices, hurl insults, and verbally bully one another until their time is up.  Clearly, arguments get better ratings than calm discussion.  The public, immersed in social media, takes the bait of provocative memes and inflammatory headlines.  At the cost of lifelong friendships and family ties, we unwittingly fall prey to the whims of those who understand the art of the “spin”.  We share, we retweet, and we build opinion without a full range of input.  In our own bubbles, we have all the answers, and all other perspectives are just plain wrong.

“When we are so obsessed with our view that we resort to using judgmental, belittling comments as our platform for dialog, we cannot learn anything, and neither can we develop deeper understanding of the subject at hand.  Also, as fun or feel-good as it might be, such behavior has never persuaded anyone else to learn anything.” ~ Michael Losey

We are passionate people, but largely uninformed.  As journalistic integrity is challenged, as truth itself is brought into question, discernment seems an overwhelming task.  The average voter has neither the time nor the resources to fact-check every news item, but it’s difficult to know which sources to trust.

On this site, we will seek new knowledge.  We will seek facts and primary sources.  We will share web addresses which may become useful tools for our readers to learn more about debt vs. deficit, democracy vs. republic, etc.  We will also look at individuals, hypothetical or actual, who are affected by the way our government behaves.  We will look at issues from all sides.

This site will adhere to rules of conduct.  We will not engage in verbal bullying.  We will not hurl insults.  We will speak with respect.  All comments will be monitored, so that this site can be useful for all ages, particularly students.  Comments submitted to this site will be edited to remove vulgarities.  As an educational tool, this platform will allow us to address those unintentional things we all say that push others away, and we will use the things we learn to build a coalition of civil citizens who appreciate diverse ways of thinking.

We will talk about the difficult things, current events, emotionally charged issues that threaten to divide us.  We will probably not solve them, but we will discuss them, and seek the common ground where compromise begins.

If you are tired of the tirades, the insults, the polarizing fear that plagues our beloved country, then join us here.  One of our former presidents dreamed of a “kinder, gentler nation”.  We can be part of the greater good.  We can make things better.  Let’s come together and make it so, for all of us.