Thursday, 26 May 2016


I'm on a collision course with everyone around me; well, everyone that is that doesn't share my opinions. I don't stoop to disagreeing publicly, there's no fisticuffs, swung handbags, shoving hands or pointing fingers, or coarsely thrown words. No, I keep silent, and only air them to the few I know that are in accord with me or else I argue with non-present broadcasters i.e. the radio, the TV in the relative safety of my home, which being at the end of a corridor means my many-sided debates remain unknown.
I have a voice but I don't use it for fear of repercussions. I don't want a slanging match with anyone nor do I wish to provoke a jabbing finger. I find that kind of behaviour aggressive and unnecessary. I'm not keen on any overly public displays of hostility, vulnerability or passion, although there are situations where I accept they might be unavoidable. At their peak, emotions can be hard to control. But for most there's a time and a place...which understandably for each of us will be different, depending on whether we're comfortable or ill-at-ease. Spontaneous reactions, I grant you, are impossible to factor, and can be effusive: amusing to see, yet feature very highly on the embarrassment scale. Your idiotic burbling often realised only much later, despite the red, laughing or mortified faces around you at the time, when your lively enthusiasm for whatever it was has died. Circumstances, whenever, wherever, however they arise, can prove obstinate, they won't always play how you'd like them to so that when they refuse to be directed you find you're just a passenger at the mercy of your own improvised reactions.
Anything you say can be misconstrued, or interpreted in such a way to cause offence. To someone, somewhere. A new and unintended slant given to your words, be it a flippant remark, a thought-through comment or a written speech. The use of a single word can transform a civilised discussion into a vehement dispute, and it might not even be a noun or verb that is usually thought of as insulting. But once the collision has occurred it's hard to withdraw without a fight or an apology.
Freedom of speech, yet we seem less able to tolerate differences of opinion, feeling it rather too personally if someone happens not to agree with our view, which of course means we collide. Again and again and again. Figure of speech also comes under attack, regardless of the speaker's cultural background, since the speaker should have the sense to know such language is objectionable, voiced or printed. But how can any of us know that when the parameters constantly shift? A term that was benign yesterday is considered derogatory the next.
Words evolve: take on different uses, different meanings, which is precisely what makes language so rich. The use of one word over another could be a conditioned response or in your native tongue have a different meaning to someone than how you choose to use it. Over-sensitivity is not forward-thinking, nor is ventilating your grievances or exposing your every thought, as despite assurances that these are symbolic of a democratic society they often cause trouble. The thinker who dared to voice their thoughts aloud is bombarded with unpleasant messages or hounded, whereas the offended, even if they are not the sort to bully, still adds to the moral outrage making such actions perpetrated by others justifiable.
We all get steamed up, riled, incensed by something another has said or done because we're all different and that's human nature. End of. Over-sharing leads to over-sensitivity, and over-sensitivity often leads to censorship or forces those more extreme underground. Freedom of speech is generous in that it celebrates diversity yet enables conflict to peaceably co-exist but not prevail. It does not mean to voice your thoughts irresponsibly or to browbeat others to your opinion.

*Picture Credit: Rodin's Thinker, Edvard Munch