Gone are the hippie-dippy days of live and let live. Today's global discourse is bellow, belittle, and block. We are in a dangerous era where we assume that our facts are the only facts and gleefully shame, silence, or subjugate those different from us. This behavior was a previously unfathomable reality in the Land of the Free Home of the Brave until recently when social media and internet giants began deleting content, de-platforming voices, and landing folks in time-out.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk labeled Big Tech the arbiter of free speech with the powerful insight, "West Coast high tech has to make the distinction between banning hate speech and banning speech it hates." Censoring divergent viewpoints is never an option in civilizations because it's uncivilized. It's juvenile, reptilian-brained, and sanctimonious. As adults, we should know and do better than cease communication via a phone hang-up, a social media block, a slammed door, or other such dismissive acts that let you know you are no longer worthy of being heard.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." How can I walk a mile in your shoes if I don't respect your right to have walked in those shoes? I served in the military. I may not like what you have to say, but I'll defend your right to say it with my life. And while I always imagined this threat would come from abroad, I am now getting a clearer understanding of our founding fathers' framework, Live Free or Die.
The movie Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most significant examples of allowing divergent details to support the mission's overall needs. Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life -- without firing a shot -- to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa. This movie deeply impacted me, especially as a service member. It is one of the finest examples I have seen of standing true on your core convictions while remaining an integral part of the collective. Please take a moment and watch the ending interviews for the movie Hacksaw Ridge.
These closing interviews clearly explain why the cancel culture is doomed to fail because it puffs up a critical spirit and silences a critical mind. Personal convictions are deeply embedded in character. You can never separate the two; hence people will give up their livelihood, limbs, and even lives to stand true to their core. When we censor, we tell others their voices are unworthy of being heard as judged by us. Case closed. Is there anything more divisive in the world than violating values and invalidating interpretations? There can be no Co-Exist until everyone respects everyone else's right to live their lives based on their core values and convictions. And canceling someone's liberty to speak and think freely and question the facts is the actual hate speech.