What is freedom? What good is freedom if it’s not to make lives better? What good will it do us if we can’t make an impact to those that look up to the information we are capable of providing? Why should we see injustices and not speak up? Why should we see the tears of the downtrodden and the devastated and the confused and not spread the word? There is an adage that goes like this, "If you have a problem, speak up. The people you intended to tell may not be able to help, but among those who hear you will be people who have been waiting for such an opportunity to help." People may like, hate, criticize, encourage, but they should not be silenced.
Freedom of speech is a grand privilege. It is this privilege that allows people to know where traffic jam is the thickest, so that commuters can know which routes to avoid. It is this privilege that allows people to be aware of an accident on a highway and who’s responsible. It is this privilege that lets us know the deplorable state of our health centres and hospitals. It’s through such people that we are instantly made aware of injustices that are going on around us. It’s how we know which restaurant is offering a discount and which fuel stations have the cheapest fuel.
Freedom of speech, like any other privilege, must not be misused or taken for granted. We live in an era where everyone with a smartphone can be our eyes and ears. There’s a wealth of resources at our disposal to inform more people in a much shorter time. We get to know events in occurrence way before the evening news. Why then must we stay silent?
Admittedly, there’s going to be problems with everyone fancying themselves the voice of the people. A lot of truths will get distorted in the mad scramble for recognition and bloated sense of importance. But there is a grain of truth in all that noise. There’s a reason for the uprising and the chants and the demonstrations. There’s a reason for the exposés and the interviews. There’s a reason for the reports and the analysis. There is a message, and the message should be more important than the messenger. You know the saying ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’. We are but conduits, storytellers at best. We mash, season, bake and grill the facts and present them in a form that’s palatable and unforgettable. And as the masses wipe the corners of their mouths after a sumptuous meal of truth, they can belch and tell everyone about it. We are the voice, and the voice shall not be muffled. It will ring clear off the walls, streets, mountains and valleys. It will be whispered in the playgrounds and the halls. It will be shouted from the rooftops and the fields. It is for all to hear. It is all inclusive. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t excommunicate. It is for those who can listen and read. It seeks only to impart knowledge. And hopefully, that knowledge will inspire action of some sort; the sort that doesn’t endanger needlessly. As the pioneers tell the natives, “We come in peace,” but without the backstabbing that’s known to follow suit.
What is freedom? Freedom is the license to do what one is supposed to do. Freedom to speak out on matters that cannot be kept silent. For to deny the existence of a situation is not to erase the reality. Freedom might be expensive, but it is meant for all. It’s meant to be shared, and it is meant to be enjoyed responsibly. For if we betray people’s trust, if we misuse the freedom that we have been given, what then do we have? Freedom of speech is a gift, very much like the air we breathe. And such freedom should not be suffocated.