Freedom of Speech…just choose your words carefully!

The riots recently in Charlottesville have created a climate of political turmoil and the questions on how any protest takes a turn into violent rioting.

 
Aside from what took place last week-end in Virginia, not all protesting ends in violence, in fact, the majority of protesting is done in a non-violent manner. With the right of free speech for citizens of our country, the chances of a peaceful protest do increase with the ability of people to protest freely. If you live in an authoritarian or oppressive environment, frustration and anger may tip any protest into a riot and become completely out of control.

 
Crowd psychology may also play into how protests grow into riots, and how those riots expand to other cities. When you are in a crowd, you are more likely to behave as others do, even if it is against your own personal belief system. And others’ behavior can be contagious–people get wrapped up in often bad behavior. Those with ulterior motives (looting, for example) take an opportunity in the midst of chaos to commit an anonymous act.

 
Then, we have militant, even subversive, groups like the KKK and any other so-called white supremacist organizations engaging in reprehensible behaviors under this given banner of both free speech and said right-to-protest, spewing hatred and racism with their actions. While protests are sometimes triggered by a social injustice towards an individual or group, what these militant groups are founded on go against the rights of all humans living in our country. Still, our constitution guarantees this right to protest and the results often bring a lethal outcome from groups for which antisocial behavior is the norm.  A sad commentary indeed for a country founded on freedom for all.

 

Taking into account this crowd psychology, those few violence-prone individuals can trigger a crowd of violent behavior. Groups afford people the anonymity to engage in behavior they wouldn’t engage in otherwise. A group’s behavior is more likely to help an individual justify going outside of their moral code.

 

As Americans, as decent human beings, we must condemn such behavior and come to the understanding that there is always fault on both sides of any issue based on behavioral psychology. The loss of any life is tragic but we all need to realize that any riotous situation can quickly become a war zone and the consequences can turn deadly. People rush to defend their right to speak and act freely and, with that, sensibilities and calmness are overtaken by anger.

 

From my perspective, the most damaging part of these situations is the fallout directed at our government and with each other, as differing opinions reach epidemic proportions in a quest to challenge so much of what cannot be changed. People demand political impeachment and resignation of our country’s president without truly realizing that they themselves are becoming engaged in this same crowd psychology of those haters who thrive on racism and violence.  

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Looking at the stars….

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”  The quote in her high school yearbook was just what I expected and, as I looked at her senior portrait, time stopped, just for a brief moment.

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I stared at the image of this beautiful young woman, and suddenly her rapid journey of almost eighteen years went into reverse, taking me back to a sunny June morning, the day she made her worldly debut, always to be called “my Flag Day baby”.   From then on, the years have sped by as she has grown and blossomed into an extraordinary human being.  I often say that she’s an old soul, wise beyond her tender years.  Well, she is.  At least through my Grandmotherly eyes.  

In the harrowed times we’re all living in, I applaud her unflinching determination as it pertains to her future, that of this world, and the continued educational path she will follow to build a productive life.

Trust me Oscar Wilde, she is looking far beyond any of those heavenly lights.

 

 

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On the edge…

Here we are, eight days into this new year while the angry ghosts of a tumultuous past year linger still, certain to bang drums with their enraged rhetoric in the months ahead. 

There’s no need for me to reiterate concerning the many events, political and otherwise, which have now set the stage with a promise of unending drama for a somewhat fearful world audience.  What I hear, and see, most often is the constant commentary by others about how social media manages to bring every incident, inconsequential or tragic, to the forefront of public debate and much, much criticism.  True, that it does.   In reality, many of these occurrences have always taken place and any outrage over a particular situation was a matter of discussion at the office or around the dinner table.  Today, we have people engaging in verbal assaults on media websites and, of course, on various social media platforms.   As it’s often stated about cyberspace being a dangerous place, well, that’s an understatement!  It’s all out warfare with friendships disintegrating faster than political promises.

What I find most ironic is, while everyone has the right to state their opinions, that right bears a hefty price.  While some articulate their feelings better than others, any opposing views have created icy barriers in friendships that were created, even renewed, on sites like Facebook. How often do we read comments that state, “if you don’t like what I have to say, delete me as a friend!” or…there is a gradual distancing of any former playful banter that once was the norm between people.  Frankly, this really brings up the question of who a friend really is…or never was! Too many have regressed from being adults and now behave like tantrum-throwing children, engaging in one schoolyard brawl after another.  That’s definitely how I’ve been feeling in recent months.  I’m back in high school, always on the edge,  keeping my thoughts, dreams and damn opinions to myself.  

Well, almost always.  

After all,  this is my website and my stage…a place to have people read what I write and maybe laugh a little, cry, or simply look away.  I always hope that what I write will make someone stop and think about relationships, especially friendships. Some, well they aren’t to be taken too seriously because they are nothing more than proverbial candles in the wind. Others need nurturing so that they will thrive, helping people to stay connected and treat each other with respect.   It seems that too many of us have lost that ability to respect, even acknowledge, much of what we cannot change without launching emotional attacks on situations and those who don’t agree with their personal perspective.

Going forward, we will all deal with change and, trust me, I’m well aware that most will be highly critical of any powers-that-be who promise to be instrumental with the engineering of all things political.  It is what it is, can’t change the dynamics involved just… please…lose the despondency, the hatred, the negativity and look around at all that surrounds us; focus on the positives!  

This ride around the sun is getting shorter for many of us.  Enjoy it while you can.

 

 

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