Are we really all that different?  

Let’s clear the air here. We have convinced ourselves that we as humans, as Canadians, as people of this century….know better, or are better than the version of ourselves from ages past. That we are somehow different or better than people who live in countries where tyranny, genocide, totalitarianism, sexism, violence, war and evil exist. 


The truth is, we are capable of this now. We are no different as human beings. There isn’t anything special about our DNA or our ways of being. There is good and evil now. The only thing that actually separates us, is our ability to access information and speak freely. Most of the atrocities that were able to be pulled off in our history, were able to do so because either the people in power controlled the sources of information, or the ability to share, speak or transfer information was not available considering the current technology. 


I am reminded of this as I read about the Second World War, the current state of North Korea, the Social Credit System of China, pharmaceutical failures and their crimes of the past, Residential Schools, and the Soviet Union. 

The theme I hear over and over again in all of these books? “If we only knew what was really happening, we could have done something.”

If the people knew, if the people were able to communicate, and if the people could speak out…..many of these acts of violence may never have had a chance to let their plans escalate to the point that it did. 


We have a belief here that WE are different and that’s very dangerous. What’s different is actually our freedom to communicate. WE are not that different. The need for power and control exists still. Good and evil exist still. 


We are here, passively watching bills being created in parliament that give total control of communication to those in power, watching peaceful protests get shut down, censoring and firing accredited experts of all kinds, watching elected MPs being banned from parliament, governments firing doctors and teachers and scientists for not saying what they’re supposed to.  We are shaming our friends and our colleagues for daring to ever speak their concerns out loud. We are watching a one-channel news story played over and over again. We have entered a new era. One of silence, conformity and authoritarianism. In a search to be more equal, just and fair……we have actually just become more authoritarian. 


“You may have your opinions, but don’t you dare ever say anything out loud.” The people are now doing the heavy lifting.  Is this alarmism? I think not. The principle matters. The container matters. Once the container is built, the details matter less.  We should not be complacent about allowing people in power to remove the right to free speech. We should not be complacent about censorship of the internet, censorship of the news, monitoring of our phones, or our ability to protest. These freedoms  are all in the cross hairs. We have taken them for granted.


And for those of you who think freedom of speech is dangerous, there is one very simple way to end that fear. To end any misinformation, to end unjust opinions, in one quick swoop. To end the kooks, the conspiracies, the trolls………


Let the people speak. Let them speak publicly. Have both sides sit at the table. Prove them wrong. End them with good science. And let them do the same for you. Analyze their theories, their data, their science instead of smearing the person. Have balanced news with round table discussions. End the misinformation in open debate. With data. With evidence. Not name calling, labelling and erasers. Have the debate and let the people watch. Seek to understand first.


You see when we wipe people out, without the debate, when we erase the person…..but never address the concern, we don’t change anything. We don’t prove them wrong. We don’t prove “we’re right.” We don’t make the insensitive, sensitive, or help the misinformed become informed. We don’t correct the bad data, or help the bigot become woke, or the hater find compassion. We just create authoritarianism. That’s it.


Notice that there is no debate in the current state of affairs. Notice the attack on the person, instead of an attack on the data. Notice the wide sweeps of the eraser. Notice the shame, the hate, the fear and the authoritarianism. Notice the lack of discussion. Who knew it was so easy to stop people from critical thinking by simply calling someone a name? How easy it is to end a debate with name calling…instead of debate. Don’t listen to that person…..instead of, don’t listen to that theory….and here’s why. 


Is it misinformation? Or simply unfavourable information? 


We spend millions on “fact checkers,” smear campaigns, commercials and parliamentary bills……and we could end it all with one zoom call of experts in discussion.


The discussion does not exist. Experts have been begging for scientists to prove them wrong. They say “please, show me where I’m wrong??? Show me your data. Show me the correction.” Crickets instead. Crickets….or some name calling.


Where debate isn’t allowed, tyranny exists.  Where both sides of the story are not available, truth is not accessible. 

The truth doesn’t mind being questioned, so when the question isn’t allowed, you know what you’re dealing with.


The only thing that stands between us and atrocity, is our access to information and freedom of speech. Freedom of speech helps us conquer problems and stops them before they start. Open dialogue helps end misinformation and can convince those who hate to learn to love another way.  The dangers of censorship and authoritarianism are greater than the dangers of free speech. Why do I know this? Look to the past. Look at the history books. Look what is possible….when free speech and freedom of information…is not available. 


This is the tipping point. 


Freedom of speech and access to information is the only thing that protects us from history repeating itself. 

Keep asking questions. Keep the conversation open. Own your freedom of speech. Appreciate your ability to access information and never let anyone take that away from you. 


Keep going.