Last week, on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the America Ambassador to Egypt, Chris Stevens and three of his staff were attacked and murdered in Benghazi. Within hours of the attack the main stream media was saying this was in response to a 15-minute YouTube video that was made in the US which insulted “the prophet”. The next morning on National Public Radio I heard an Islamic scholar argue unopposed that free speech, and freedom itself, should be limited and secondary in importance to “honor and respect”.
In my opinion, this concept is more dangerous than the angry mob that attacked our embassy, and more of a threat than any armed foe of any foreign land. The danger being that in time, in this “Land Of The Free”, there would be no free speech at all, but rather a dark Orwellian society where “disrespect” was illegal, where words themselves would be a crime, and where the list of people and concepts we must “honor and respect” grew ever larger at the whim of those in power.
These sad events, and the conversation on free speech that followed, remind me of these words of freedom by Abraham Lincoln:
“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.” ~ Abraham Lincoln 1838
Having tried all day to tweet bits and pieces of this quote, I have decided it belongs here on this blog. My reasoning is that freedom in the spiritual world is just as important, if not more so, than freedom in the physical world. These dying words by George Bernard Shaw, an admitted non believer in a higher power, speaks to that freedom and the regrets that can be found when one is lost from it.
“The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. It’s counsels which should have established the millennium, led, instead, directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith” ~ George Bernard Shaw