Freedom of speech is a precious privilege in the Western world. Out of the 195 countries worldwide more or less 101 of those are limited in their perceptions and way of expression. However, in the Netherlands where I live we can say what we think, we may have our own point of view and voice it in different ways whenever we feel up to it.

By Dutch Law there are a couple of restrictions, i.e., we may not incite to hatred, insult an official or spread lies. To a lesser extent obscenity or the breach of decency might be viewed as a violation or not judged at all as a breach of this interesting human right. Normally one would think that by exercising such (exceptional) right respect and understanding of different perspectives, ideologies, religions, lifestyles and so on would go hand in hand. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Nowadays it seems like a growing number of people feel the need to have some kind of opinion about everything and everyone when it is not in line with their own way of living and thinking. That in itself may not be a bad thing. However, what is making it bad is the way that personal view is communicated or displayed; it’s becoming more and more galling, offensive, hurtful and above all provocative.

It is strange that people seem to have forgotten that the freedom of speech is in fact a human right. Sometimes I wonder if they know why human rights were initiated, i.e., these rights give you the right to lead a decent life, ultimately leading to a more harmonious and peaceful environment. By neither considering other people’s feelings nor respect other ideologies, political views, lifestyles and religions, one could say that the intended objective of human rights is completely missed. Yes, of course we can voice our opinion, but we need to respect and treat people with different perspectives in a decent, polite and complaisant way to prevent we fail to meet the purpose of the initiation of human rights.

Love, light, peace and harmony is what most of us would like to see in this world, supported by the execution and acceptance of human rights in more countries around the globe. If there where freedom of speech is applicable we continue, however, to express ourselves in a disrespectful, hurtful way, we’re getting nowhere. One thing is leading to another, especially when an affront caused by freedom of speech is hurting societies, populations or followers of religion or political views, living in countries where freedom of speech is not a given right or people are accustomed to it. Before long one single, reckless, disrespectful way of expressing an “opinion” may cause a turmoil, with violence, negative behavior and hard feelings towards other groups, devotees or even an entire nation that had nothing to do with the offense in case as a result.

Freedom of speech is an exceptional right reserved only to a minority of people, so let’s use it wisely. Furthermore we also need to accept that this right exists when it is not common in the country where you live and we should try to acknowledge that people might have a different point of view, of course taking into consideration that it is expressed respectfully. Let love and understanding be the key drivers in our communication or actions. It will only result in more positive energy, so badly needed in today’s society, maybe even leading to an uptake in countries that will become more amenable and receptive for the adaption of (more) human rights as a snowball effect.

I kindly thank you for reading this post and hope you will share it with others.



Click on the picture or link to watch the video “Respect”  based on the freedom of speech.