Citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a course of intellectual self defense to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for meaningful democracy.”
– Noam Chomsky
It is not unusual when events occur in our life where we come to express some remorse or regrets for having let it happen not the way we wished.
Often we think to ourselves “I should have expressed my discomfort about this matter! Pity it is too late now!”
We often give our consent on matters, news or events without taking the time if it is right or wrong. You may ask people for the reason, many would say “I don’t care!” or “Why should I bother? They don’t care for my opinion!” fewer would nod and keep silent realizing they could have, but instead let it go because the majority of people did not react.
Just to put things in context. I do not advocate for reaction or argumentation for the sake of complaining by principle, on the contrary. I surely advocate for a clearer understanding about things when they are put in public and above all when it is THE time to express an opinion or require clarifications.
News channels use various communication skills, where the tone and the syntax make things look assertive and credible. It does not mean everything they say should be taken for granted, some signs could help us better differentiate when a journalist is assuming or presuming facts before confirmation is when he or she uses the conditional tone “It was alleged…” or, “rumors say..”
Keeping silent is a manner to consent, the forced consent as I like to name it. Moreover we are constantly exposed to such forced consents in many occasions: would you oppose a different opinion when your upper management Chief of something says something you disagree about? I am not sure you would put yourself at risk, yet if the time is appropriate there is no reason to drawn that person aside and request to better understand his or her point of view. I know for many it is unthinkable, I have done it more than once and sincerely I never felt my job was on the line!
“Because the teacher said so!” that’s quite a statement very seldom parents would challenge even if in awareness of their child’s circumstances. “I want you to stop this medication, and let’s see what happens in 15 days!” Medical professionals, always intend good and safe, yet they don’t walk in patients shoes, and will probably forget whom we are 2.5 minutes after your appointment is over (2.5 minutes being the time to record his or her remarks in your file!). We take for granted their words and move on no questions asked. Of course common sense will say most of the times these people are right. But, we do need to understand and make sure we feel “ok” about their recommendations.
If you spend a day, one simple day, noting in your mind how many times there are accepted consents you do not realize but you certainly acknowledge and realize afterwards you would have asked or shared an opinion before accepting. The most serious ones remain when there are decisions taken about the city, province state or country, where you are invited as a member of the community or country and you do not show. The drawback(s) being the decisions that may not be convenient, eventually you would had to share an idea that could bring something better…
I fully agree with Noam Chomsky about his idea to integrate a course about intellectual self defense into the schooling system, yet it is up to each one of us to start our self-education at home, in communities and in our cities.
It is easier to complain after the decision was made and taken, but we do know this will not change anything, simply because we missed an occasion to express ourselves freely.
If I do share my opinion and speak up knowing its consequences, being a concerned citizen but moreover in due respect and solidarity to those who cannot enjoy such privilege of free thinking and free speech.
Maybe we should consider saying and acting more often about how much we care!
Until our next chat,
Michel – July 29, 2015