It seems to be a pattern in our culture to chip away at personal freedoms in order to protect people from themselves. We heard about an example of this in New York City when the mayor at the time pushed through an ordinance banning the sale of drinks larger than 16ozs; the pushback was so intense that the law was repealed in short order. The attitude seems to be that we are wiser and better educated than you and we have drawn some firm conclusions on how you should conduct your life; freedom and civil debate are stifled.
Do you remember learning that there are nine planets, sometimes using a clever sentence to remember them in order? Pluto was recently demoted from the ranks, lowering the number in our solar system to eight. Thankfully, none of us lived in the 18th Century when bloodletting was a common practice and the probable cause of death of our first President. If science closed off research and free debate on the topics, we would still be under these misimpressions.
Free debate must be encouraged to get to the truth.
Why do I believe this to be so important? On a macro level, the American experiment in freedom has delivered the most powerful, the most economically successful nation in human history. Yes, those truths are diminished somewhat by the poor choices free people make; slavery is a glaring example. We mourn the consequences of poor choices people make with the privilege of Constitutional freedom, but the free expression of ideas eventually led us to the right conclusions.
This process of reevaluation often plays out on the local level, including Bourbon County. When people use whatever means possible to silence those with whom they disagree, we all lose. When we try to shout down local candidates we don’t like because of personal reasons, or they are not part of our particular “faction,” we all miss out on the free expression of ideas and appropriate debate. Instead, we write and share social media posts with trivial negativity and half-truths about our fellow citizens. We use whatever personal leverage we might have to discredit or discourage opponents instead of engaging them in healthy discourse.
What Bourbon County needs more than anything is a free people in an earnest quest for truth to reestablish the trust we are now missing, to our great detriment. Our public forums and debates must keep the quest for truth through the free expression of ideas at the center. Otherwise, we will not arrive at solutions that represent our best.
Before you attack, demean, pick apart and generally criticize someone with whom you disagree, examine your motives and the general impact it will have on the culture and wellbeing of our community. Certainly, politely call out those who are stifling open discourse through half-truths and nit-picky acts of disrespect. Let us depend upon the honest exchange of ideas through free and civil discourse in order to arrive at the best solutions for Bourbon County. Let us reestablish trust through respecting one another’s freedoms.