Hi, I’m Claire and I’ve been given free rein to write what I like in a newspaper printed 134,000 times. If it sounds amazing, it’s because it is! I couldn’t be happier that I have this opportunity to connect with so many people.
I’m also apprehensive because putting your words out there for others to read comes with a lot of responsibility. You have to make sure you believe in what you say, go with what you know, and admit that there are things that you don’t really know about at all. We all do have things that we don’t know about or understand, but the best thing we can do is keep an open mind and try to see things from other people’s points of view. We also have to be careful with how our words impact others and be ready to receive criticism if our views don’t align with everyone we meet.
It’s ok to change your mind when presented with new information. It’s ok to say you don’t know enough about a subject to form a proper opinion, and it is definitely ok to disagree on things. But when someone tells us our words are harmful, we have to take a step back and assess the situation. I was brought up to be kind. I’m sure a lot of us were and I know a lot of us would never purposefully try to hurt someone else.
Sometimes though, no matter how we try to avoid it, we can hurt others with our words. When we do, it is so easy for us to feel stung because we feel like we’ve been misunderstood. We never meant any harm so it’s upsetting that someone would take our words in that way, right? Well, yes, but the thing is at that moment it isn’t about our feelings, it is about the other person and we need to listen to them.
What definitely doesn’t need to happen is for people to become defensive or try to walk out of the conversation, like the incident with Jim Davidson and Ashley Banjo. Davidson made some remarks on Diversity’s Black Lives Matter dance routine. Banjo then invited him to come and speak about them. After being told his views were ‘inherently racist’, during the talk, Davidson stormed out angrily. Banjo said: “I am disappointed because it was an opportunity for us to sit and really engage in a discussion.”
A constructive opportunity wasted due to a person not wanting to sit and either defend their words or gain more information and maybe change their mind. All because they didn’t want to be critiqued.
Free speech is the right to hold an opinion and voice it. It is not a card that means we don’t have to then deal with the ramifications of what we have said. So if someone wants to talk to us about how our words have hurt them, the decent thing to do is listen.
Join me again next week and remember – believe in what you say!
Claire Gordon’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.