Saturday, 5 April 2014

Freedom? Justice? Equality? Tolerance?

Freedom. Justice. Equality. Tolerance.

Everyday words that we take for granted and liberally dish out with little thought to what they truly mean. It bothers me to know that this generation has fallen prey to what I call the 'popular-word-bias' - when society adapts a word and embellishes it with various implicit connotations that the usage of it becomes meaningless, yet dangerous!

I'll stop beating around the bush and blurt out the fact that I am in fact addressing the issue of homosexuality, same-sex marriage in particular. I am not writing this to voice my stance on it, or convince you of what I believe - you might know what I believe, or like some you might wrongly label me a bigoted homophobe - my friend, you are free to believe what you want! I am writing this with one agenda, to highlight this society's ignorant misconceptions.

'Freedom of expression', 'freedom of speech', are some of many human-rights jargon that flood media outlets but few understand what they mean. It appears to me that one is entitled to express his opinion or belief only if it complements the majority. I am saddened by news articles that condemn open-air preachers for simply stating what the Bible says on this matter. (Let me make this clear that I do not speak for those preaching hatred, and I mean, preaching HATRED!) It troubled me to see believers (not just Christians) being ridiculed for their stance.
Is that what freedom is?
If freedom permits one to say 'Aye', should it not also permit the other to say 'Nay'?

I applaud the government and our justice systems for taking hatred seriously and dealing with it appropriately. However I am appalled by the fact that its measures are concentrated on preventing hatred towards the proposition, while hatred towards the opposition not only goes unnoticed, but is trivialised. Justice is symbolised by scales, but our practise of it seriously skews it.
Does that seem fair to you?

We are equal, all of us, regardless of our opinions, races, sexual preferences, political views, name it! Equality runs both ways though, you cannot just emphasise that society ought to embrace change, you've got to be mindful and empathetic towards those who do not wish to conform to this change. As one of my wise best friends says, 'Agree to disagree.' Equality means treating those who practise homosexuality with love, acceptance and respect; it also means treating those who may oppose homosexuality with the same love, acceptance and respect. A difference in opinion is not a personal attack - one does not hate people who practise homosexuality or people who oppose it - it is merely an expression of varied ideologies.
Who says that's wrong? Values matter to an individual, never try to trivialise or ridicule them, instead respect and make room for intellectually stimulating discussions. Every century accommodated people who adhered to varied ideologies, and they got on fine on a personal level!

Finally, tolerance. The dictionary defines tolerance as, 'the ability or willingness to endure the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.' 
Tolerating means 'enduring', putting up with something; tolerance does not demand or require agreement. Any issue, even the least controversial, splits opinions and there is nothing intolerant about disagreeing. With a lot of Christians (and members of other faiths) being labelled 'intolerant' for their stance, I wonder, wouldn't that same usage of the word apply vice versa? By labelling a Christian intolerant for disagreeing with homosexuality, aren't you implying that a Christian could label a proponent of homosexuality 'intolerant', on the basis that they disagree with tthe Bible?

Think! Before you use any of these terms, think! The illogical, mindless, rash usage of these terms has hurt many - proponents and opponents alike. While we are seeking to build bridges between various members of the community, such practises burn them down to nothing. I do not deny the fact that there are those with extreme views on either side, and I do not condone them, far from it! All I want to see is fair judgement and freedom to have a mature discussion.