what am I afraid of most

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what am I afraid of mostyou’re the nice family I know

good people

who have seen the world

tasted its hurts, madness and fears

for this you defend your right

to defend your rights

you’re the nice neighbours

who I know

love, respect, honour and care

although I disapprove of what you say

will I defend to the death your right to say it

can I do you the kindness

of challenging those rights

before you kill all the children?

With acknowledgement to Evelyn Beatrice Hall. In her biography on Voltaire, Hall wrote the phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs. Hall’s quote is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall

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17 thoughts on “what am I afraid of most

    mybrightlife said:
    December 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    We have had a horrific six months here in our little village. We stated an opinion with regards to what we considered to be abusive environmental and development action by a local developer and were threatened with legal action that felt very much like a S.L.A.P.P. case. Google SLAPP, it is all about how ones freedom of speech rights get shut down! This was the most frustrating thing through it all – the exact point that Ms Hall makes. ‘Speak loudly and hold strong opinions and defend them and argue back if you dissagree’ but to simply silence with the use of threat, fear and financial power is so degenerative. The thing is it seems to be how our world operates. Normal folk live life believing in rules and regulations and that the systems in place hold things together. Hah! Take one step up (or perhaps down?) and you enter another world – the world where the real decisions take place, based on greed ,lies and financial power. Meanwhile us plebs living at ground level continue to be controlled by our false sense of ‘order’ and ‘rights’. It has been a big ‘growth’ experience for this ‘green’ bright eye’d girl! But I will continue to fight for my belief that everyone has a right to their opinion and to argue it without fear or threat – but when you are threatened to a point where you can loose your home, your kids wellbeing and the emotional wellbeing of youfamily and relationship- it gets a little challenging! Reading Ms Hall’s words helps remind me that there are others out there and always have been who feel the same and who are brave enough to take a stand because when it gets down to the nitty-gritty the ostrich syndrome kicks into first gear.Sorry EllaDee. I am having a little rant on your blog but this is a very important and powerful topic that you have raised and unfortunately close to home on a personal level right now.

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      EllaDee responded:
      December 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Feel fee to rant, I had not heard of S.L.A.P.P. but I googled it, and it is really all about money & power, as usual. It is disappointing that you are in such an terrible place for speaking up about what you believe is right. Now I understand what S.L.A.P.P. is , I can tell you we had a recent incident reported in the Australia media – http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/electricity-industry-threatens-farmer-who-dared-to-fight-20121109-293wf.html – the good news is, he won. There is hope.
      I won’t presume to tell people how to feel, what to believe or how to act but after the events in the US I was horrified and couldn’t get my mind off it, and have my own opinion but I know others have theirs. I just wonder how the opinions are weighted really.

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        mybrightlife said:
        December 16, 2012 at 6:28 am

        Like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and it could be worse. The US shooting is just insane, don’t even know where to begin with that. Freedoms and lack of freedom seems to lead humans to do amazing things at times and on the other hand often deeply tragic things.

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          EllaDee responded:
          December 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm

          Thank you for sharing what’s happening with you – sometimes it’s hard to speak out. It’s good you can see it that way but still awful for your and your family. I hope it is resolved for the best for you soon. I hadn’t been going to post, as my thoughts were so confused but the words came to me.

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    ChgoJohn said:
    December 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    No words today, EllaDee. Just a heavy heart.

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      EllaDee responded:
      December 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Me too. This is all I could manage. I feel helpless & sad. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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    roughseasinthemed said:
    December 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    My father used to like that quote and would repeat it frequently.

    Of course, as MBL pointed out above, we don’t live in a world we have free speech at all. I’m not sure we ever have.

    Insidious threats and violence to property and people soon take away that so-called free speech.

    And then there are the legislative attributes. If I could find my Ye Olde Journalism text book, I’d quote the laws on blasphemy and racism where you are limited to what you say because it may incite violence. Not that I agree with being abusive to anyone regardless of religion or race (or any other discriminatory attitude), but it does make the idea of being able to say what you want a mockery.

    I think however, that MBL has nailed it on the head. As ever money takes precedence. Freedom of speech, right to say what we want – and I’m not talking blasphemy or racism here – just a right to disagree with big business. It doesn’t work does it? 😦

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      EllaDee responded:
      December 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      I found merit in that quote once as well. Now I agree, the concept of freedom of speech has all become a mockery. As you & MBL point out, money takes precedence, so it’s pay for say. Some people pay with money and power, and others sadly pay with their lives.
      The contrast of my simple, safe Saturday morning against the news was stark, and the words came to me as I was walking along the street, as I thought how different our circumstances are.
      Thanks for adding your views, I needed that clarity.

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    metan said:
    December 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I don’t have enough words to describe how completely awful this event is.

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      EllaDee responded:
      December 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      I can imagine you and people with similar age kids must be thinking there but for the grace go I, with an even greater sense of immediacy than me. I had no words and wasn’t going to post but as I went about my day, I was so saddened about the disparity of it against their’s, the words found me & wouldn’t leave until I wrote them down… Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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        metan said:
        December 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        I am just so thankful we live in a place that doesn’t have such a gun-centric culture.
        Number 2 was off at a birthday party on Sat afternoon, and was over an hour late being dropped off home because they were having such a good time. I wasn’t really worried as I guessed what was going on. Had I heard this dreadful news earlier I think I would have been on the phone checking just for my own peace of mind. Ridiculous I know, but the thought of any person targeting small children is totally beyond my understanding.
        My heart breaks for those poor families. Here I am planning to wrap my kids presents tomorrow before I run out of time, for those families xmas will be a sad anniversary for the rest of their lives.

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          EllaDee responded:
          December 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm

          Friday evening I was wandering around inner-west back lanes taking photos of street art, and remarked to the G.O. how grateful I was to feel safe. On Saturday as well – I was thankful to be having a normal Saturday, and I felt bad, guilty but was grateful…
          Last week I read a SMH article and scoffed at this last sentence as over exaggeration… “And best of all, Burkeman quotes that old Stoic Epictetus: “Every time you kiss your child goodnight, you should specifically consider the possibility that she might die tomorrow. (It) will make you love her all the more, while reducing the shock should that awful eventuality ever come to pass.”…
          This weekend it haunted me.

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        metan said:
        December 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm

        I have always lived by that kind of thought, I always walk the kids up to school and say goodbye properly, I never turf them out in the carpark and tell them to get moving (even though sometimes I am sorely tempted) because of that very thing. You never know what the day might bring.

        I am not a fatalist, but I have been in the situation where I have put an intubated four-year-old in an ambulance with a horde of medics and not expected to see him alive at the other end. That goodbye was the most horrible and hardest thing I have ever done. The time between ‘normal morning’ and doing that was so short it was breathtaking, so I never think that ‘it can’t happen to me’.

        I know that if something ever happened to them, or me, we have all left on happy terms that day. Every time I see some grumpy mum shouting her kids out of the car and driving off leaving them miserable at the school gate I really hope that their day will end with them all around the dinner table, and that shouty goodbye is not somebodys last memory.

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          EllaDee responded:
          December 17, 2012 at 5:58 am

          This is true and the G.O. & I do it to with each other and our families but to see those words “…specifically consider the possibility… reducing the shock” was just too in your face to me, and surely there must be an economy of scale to how much considering you should do vs how much shock you could reduce.
          We were of course discussing it all on the weekend, both grew up in rural households with guns, but neither consider them necessary to general society and like you are happy that our environment is not gun centric.

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    diannegray said:
    December 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I haven’t post anything this weekend, Ella because I’m so shocked at what has happened in the US. Your poem is perfect…

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      EllaDee responded:
      December 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you. I wasn’t posting anything either for the same reason but as I was going about life on Saturday, it wouldn’t leave me, and I ended up having to stop & type it into the memo app on my phone… I keep reading the news to try to make sense of it but of course it doesn’t make sense. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

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        diannegray said:
        December 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        I think the entire world is reeling at the moment – what an awful Christmas for so many people 😦

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