Mike Aparicio

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Is Freedom of expression growing?

Is there an obvious conflict of opinion about Expression and Communication Freedom, with strong ethical implications.
What do you think?
I think it is highly relevant to have a conversation on the topic!
Do you?

  • Aug 23 2013: it seems that it is growing around much of the world due to the technology of the information age, while in my country of north america it is shrinking.
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      Aug 24 2013: I agree. With a few words you said it. The only missing fact is it also is shrinking in small nations under Uncle Sam's power.
  • Aug 22 2013: I think it is; if not, look at TED! It is all about expressing yourself. If you compare freedom of expression nowadays, with how it used to be in the past; then I think it is more than clear how it has changed. For example, go to the times when Copernico, Kepler or many scientists had their own ideas and realizations about how this Universe works. In that time, if you told what you thought, the church would just punish you by simply killing you if you didn't took back what you said.
    So yes, in my opinion freedom of expression is growing, what I don't know is the rate at which it is doing this
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    Aug 19 2013: If there is a conflict between the two, then I think that indicates a flawed understanding of freedom of communication.

    It is not possible to have freedom of communication if there is also censorship of expression of opinion. Although it would be nice for all the world to agree, the simple fact is that we don't.

    I am not suggesting that hateful rhetoric is a good thing but people must start understanding that this kind of thing reflects, not on the targets of such speech, but the speaker.

    It is notable (to me anyway) that many people take offense at what others (often outside their community) say or do and expect some kind of apology or statement withdrawal. Sometimes, it's more powerful to ignore offensive statements than it is to let them get a rise out of you, even if you feel you are defending something.

    Live and let live. Diversity is a great thing. Conformity is not.
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    Aug 16 2013: Hi Mike,

    You have cast the bait, and the fish are nibbling.
    But back to the question.....

    I wonder if we can start by truly seeking to find out what Freedom is, not the word, but the act of Freedom. Freedom in action. Because without understanding Freedom, what are we expressing?

    I don't claim to be an expert in anything, the cemeteries are full of experts. But one thing I know: for Freedom to exist, there has to be NO FEAR. And most people in the world are afraid. Afraid because there is a social construct called WRONG and we are afraid of trespassing and if we do, we are followed by GUILT. So if we are afraid, we cannot be free, and if we cannot be free, the question is irrelevant.

    So, how does one become free of Fear, so that one can attain INTEGRITY, from which Freedom can attest? Can one be honest, as in word so in deed? Can the individual transform inwardly, so that this transformation will be expressed in relationship with others, and perhaps perpetuate?

    There is no greater deception than self-deception. "To thine own self be true", we are invited. But few listen, and even fewer take the chance. Honesty, inwardly, is the healing act that alone can restore INTEGRITY. And where there is INTEGRITY, even Death has no say.

    A human Being, (as opposed to a human talking) is a threat to all forms of control, because he/she has no fear thus cannot be controlled. Only a mind with INTEGRITY knows what is TRUE, as opposed to right and wrong. Right and wrong are concepts that even the LAW has issues with, because there is no clear cut, leaving room for interpretation. TRUTH has no need to be interpreted as it is self evident.

    But alas! there is no profit in being honest and having integrity. So right and wrong rules, and so does fear. Freedom, meanwhile, remains a dream, whilst deception is an every day reality.

    So what is there to express, my dear friend?
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      Aug 17 2013: Very good!
      I would say: "Courage is there to be expressed"!
      Fear is the main tool for repression.
      Fear of Tax collectors, fear of scientific monopolies, fear of Judicial Systems, fear of social opinion and censorship, fear, fear, fear....
      Sheldrake for instance.... You have seen what happens to him.
      He is a courageous man, expressing very valid observations and realities.
      When certain things are said, even the supposedly most democratic circles get stiff and find reasons for suppression and reaction.

      Hurrah to courageous Freedom Fighters!
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        Aug 17 2013: I am on your side, my friend. I lived under dictatorship for 19 years after which I left as a refugee. I came to Australia, and let me tell you, under dictatorship we were repressed by the government, here we are repressed by our own greed, selfishness and apathy. Here, we repress one another.

        Under dictatorship I had real friends, fighting for the same cause. Here, there are no real friends, everyone is for himself. Real sad. I could trust people with my life under dictatorship. Here, I can't trust them with my shopping bag.

        Sheldrake is a courageous man, and there are some others like him. But very few. At the time of the Vietnam War, people were marching in the street. The Iraq and Afghanistan war, even more atrocities, but few people in the street. There is a lack of unity around the world, at least that is my perception. But things will change as we reach another economic stalemate, and that is the right time for uprising.
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    Aug 29 2013: This is a response to Bernard White's mention of Jehovah's Witnesses exercising their rights to freedom of expression in regards to blood.

    You might be interested in watching this 6 minute video posted by PBS last month on exactly that very same topic.


    The wonderful thing about freedom of expression, to me, at least, is that when individuals have an open mind, and are willing to listen to other's points of view, then understanding takes hold of the individual.

    Ignorance is a terrible thing.

    Being freely able to interview people, and then being free to air a program educating the public on issues that are misunderstood by many, is a wonderful thing.........imho :)

    If you want more detailed information on this Bernard, you might want to view the youtube series of medical videos.

    Here is a link to the first one of the series:

  • Aug 23 2013: I will have to answer with a question, why we have to be offered what we call freedom expression or what so ever as if someone is doing us a favour by allowing us to do or say what we feel.

    I believe they have robbed us our life by controlling us, conditioning us, what I say now onwards should be based on my cultural basis, educational background and what community at large thinks
    The world has become small in that some people a trip around the globe it’s like they are just checking / visiting their back yard, but these persons do they have to conform to all the norms of this native countries that they have travelled must they limit their vocabulary because the natives may dislike what they transmit, maybe they might learn something out of their vocabulary also the native are not bound by any laws to follow or respect what is being said unless someone has made such laws, now someone / or act must come to our rescue in the sense of freedom of expression.
  • Aug 22 2013: In the USA, it is not only growing, it is metastasizing. Paranoia is caution overgrown. Lust is libido overgrown. Braggadocio is courage overgrown. Virtue is in the median. That being said, it is not the place of government to fix the situation. We can only hope that there is something to the idea that, over time, the benefit of moderation becomes self-evident by contrast with the damage done by excess. Yes, have rallies and make speeches. Experiment with art and music. Eventually, though, realize that not everyone will consider you to be brilliant, and they have as much right to dislike your expression as you have to express yourself.
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    Aug 20 2013: Not sure whether Freedom of expression as a whole is growing or not . What I feel is because of the availability of media like Internet we are able to express our thoughts / beliefs to a greater audience , earlier people could express those only among her/ his known circle of people.

    The other point is that as people now have access to lot more information their own thoughts / beliefs can be influenced by those which earlier used to shaped up by thoughts and beliefs of their own surroundings if s/he was not curious enough and open enough to explore different books .

    Not clear what it means by " conflict of opinion about expression and communication freedom ". Also what it means by " "strong ethical implication " of "Expression or Communication freedom" ? Would you please clarify with some real examples ?
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    Aug 19 2013: I follow your thoughts 100%!
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      Aug 20 2013: To whom is your comment addressed? Certainly not me Mike?
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    Aug 18 2013: Great interesting topic! :-)
    I guess one thing which is important is this : "Does the Freedom of expression include the license to offend?"
    And is a freedom of Intolerance, a form of "Freedom of Expression"? For instance, recently I have been reading "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" (By Sam Harris). This book preaches the idea that we should be intolerant of religious beliefs, due to the belief that they aren't based on rational reasoning and can be harmful. (Not sure how much I agree). Just thought that was something worth noting.
    I mean to expand this topic, you could argue that a "jehovah witness" shouldn't have the freedom to express his/her views if it is harmful... (e.g denying blood transplantations).

    Great topic by the way! I could go on forever, but I feel I would bore you and would waffle too much.
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      Aug 19 2013: No boredom at all Bernard!

      Offending is basically an UNTRUTHFUL subject. The problem is most of the time the offended is the one creating the offense by feeling offended. Some oriental cultures get offended by women showing their faces. Should we NOT express our thought on it because, folks would become offended?

      I would be much more worried about "rational reasoning" than from religious beliefs!

      What is "rational"? Actually rational thinking can only be as a the thinker's state of mind is!

      Should Religion communications be banned or restricted because some one "rationally thinks" it is harmful?

      Where is the rationality in such distorted reasoning?

      What would be disastrous would be the end of faith!. And it is happening. Now people don't trust their neighbors. Faith in their good will is lost. Do we believe banks are honest this days? No! We have lost faith on the banking system. Society... Is there faith in society? Legal systems is introducing what is called the "Enemy Penal Rights Code". No more acceptance of the presumption of Innocence. Each day, the notion of being guilty and having to prove your innocence is growing. Loss of faith in the good nature of human kind.
      So faith is not only, accepting and believing in Spiritual Powers, God and our Spiritual Nature. Faith is a VITAL state of mind for our well being.
      Loss of Faith is indeed VERY HARMFUL!
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      Aug 29 2013: Bernard, I posted some links for you on top of this conversation
  • Aug 17 2013: Yes the Freedom of expression is growing but if you are asking to have the Freedom to say anything without someone questioning the statement, that is not Freedom but a degree of dictatorship of someone asking the world to accept or tolerate anything I say. It could be racially intolerant, biased beyond belief, insulting.,

    I believe you can say anything if you are willing to accept the consequences and are willing to fight for your opinion.
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      Aug 17 2013: Hi Wayne,

      I am wondering if we misunderstand what Freedom stands for.
      My take on it is that Freedom is where FEAR is not.
      Meaning Freedom is the ability to speak the TRUTH.
      Not profanities and endless arguments or insults.
      What is TRUTH, might you ask?
      Certainly not what this world will try and make you believe.
      You must find that out for yourself.
      Be a Light unto yourself. Not follow like sheep.
      You will know it when you are completely and absolutely Honest with yourself and others.
      Then, from there you can speak, from the Heart, or the Truth.

      But like I have mentioned before, TRUTH benefits no one, but lies do.
      Truth benefits only in relation to SANITY. Not your bank account.
      And most people would like to benefit one way or another.
      But mostly, TRUTH benefits ALL.
      Means we do not get divided by lies.
      Truth cannot divide, but Lies can.
      Truth serves all Humanity, but Lies serve the few.

      Until we all learn to speak the Truth, there will be no Freedom because there will be no Strength and Unity.
      • Aug 17 2013: and who will decide the truth - I was in a Philosophy of Religion course and we were discussing the Book of Job - an individual who was taking the course stated that here is what Father XXX said and that is the only true interpretation of the Book of Job. I have no problem saying that was that individual's truth and does not bother me. What does bother me was the claim that it was the truth and the truth.

        I feel that through discussion and the exchange of ideas do we come closer to understanding - ultimate truth i will let others try for, understanding is what i hope for.
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          Aug 17 2013: Hi Wayne,

          Thank you for your participation in the dialogue. This is not about right or wrong, as right and wrong implies choice, and when dealing with TRUTH, it is only one, one truth, not two, you cannot choose. Only a confused mind chooses. The Truth is not according to anyone, but to itself. We only need to mirror the Truth, or witness it. In that, there must be no self interest, or any attempt to distort. Our Ego, or expectations, distort it because we see what we expect rather than what is. "To expect, is to anticipate, therefor to miss the Obvious" - I have coined this phrase.

          I am not asking you for a second to believe what I say. See for yourself, and do not depend on anyone or anything in finding the Truth.
          But the doorway to it is Sincerity, Honesty, Integrity, Authenticity.

          The TRUTH cannot be imposed, as it happens with a BELIEF.

          Only an honest, sincere mind can know the TRUTH. There is such thing, when honesty restores Innocence i.e. "Unless you are like one of these children you shall not enter the kingdom of my Father". The Truth is not decided, the truth is REVEALED to the mind that is sincere and not warped by lies. The TRUTH is self evident, it does never seek to be justified or excused. Only assumptions, speculative guesses that we hold onto and call BELIEFS need to justified.

          Words can never substitute the TRUTH. They can point in the direction of it, but the TRUTH is revealed to a mind that is STILL. The Moon can reflect clearly in the still waters, but in the unsettled waters, the moon appears warped. So with the TRUTH.
          And what warps the mind is fear, thinking, division in the psyche.

          Try it out.
          “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8)
      • Aug 18 2013: i have tried and it is not for me. Let us agree to disagree.
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        Aug 18 2013: Plain agreement John!
        The TRUTH from an expression standpoint, should be the honest and clear expression of our own thoughts or ideas, without negative intentions in them.
        FEAR is used to repress the Free Expression of those ideas, as the TRUTH many times challenges obscure forces or personal egotistic interests.
        When I consider Freedom of Expression being diminished, is because in most systems the Law is used to forbid certain concepts to be told or communicated. Other times, is the supposed "Power of Science" which makes strong efforts to restrict ideas which clash or friction with orthodox and accepted paradigms.
        In many countries, where Big Pharma is powerful, its efforts have achieved the creation of restrictive laws against practitioners of alternative medicine, including the creation of severe penalties for them. Not only the right to express alternative views on the illness and healing are being curtailed, but the individual rights to choose those alternatives is suppressed by the same means. You cannot make a choice when you don't know about alternatives.
        It is said "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"...
        Some good folks, fervent believers in the indisputably science dogmas, are very resistant and belligerent when confronted with contradictory concepts, labeling them as "pseudo-scientific" because they are supposedly using the "language of science".
        So it seems freedom to use the "language of science" is also restricted to selected groups and elites! By the same it would be justifiable Lawyers would restrict "Legal Language" to law practitioners; mathematics only for mathematicians, and chemistry jargon just for chemists!

        It is almost happening! Mainly in highly developed countries and "in the name of Society and its interests"!
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    Aug 17 2013: If there is no tolerance or acceptance of ideas,

    freedom of expression looses its significance.

    I would rather like to know ,

    Is tolerance or acceptance of ideas is growing?
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      Aug 17 2013: Definitely, not to my impression!
    • Aug 17 2013: need to clarify this, any idea? and if one argues against the idea, is that intolerance?
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    Aug 17 2013: Yep, I speak for myself. I believe a number of things must shift in new directions. The only way to do this is through expression.
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      Aug 17 2013: I agree, but does it imply there is not a growing repression to many new and old ideas?
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        Aug 18 2013: I do believe there is a growing repression to the freedom of expression today. There are many synonyms for the word complain people also use. That is how many people deal with problems instead of understanding what is being expressed. I often hear an older generation saying, "why complain? It does no good." I disagree with both parts of this quote. The definition of complain has lost it's meaning in such a negative way that it has become a way to disregard what, why, and how people suffer. If you believe the meaning of the word "does no good" then you are willing to submit to whatever happens ...happens beyond any of your control and not worth trying to change what is wrong without any answers to a problem.

        Has the "serenity prayer" become popular lately or has it just been from my experiences only? I can't stand it to be frank and honest. It's so drastically negative if you really think about it. Especially the very end ...the very open ended end. I imagine this prayer coming from a slave masters mouth ALL THE TIME.
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    Aug 16 2013: You need some definitions Mike. Let's start with the country about which you are asking. Is it the USA, or Cuba, or Guatemala, or North Korea, etc.? Also define the distinction you are making between "Expression" and "Communication Freedom".
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      Aug 16 2013: Well Edward:

      My question is really eclectic in nature. You might take it as global.

      I think of "expression" as the faculty to convey our own ideas and emotions to the external world.
      "Communication" in the sense of the ability to transfer, pass and receive information from external sources, either with the idea of spreading it or to collect it.

      Is that clear enough?
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        Aug 16 2013: Thanks for your patient explanation. I do think the answer will vary with the political climate of the nation being discussed. In some nations freedom of expression is growing, while in others it is suffering loss if not total suppression.
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          Aug 17 2013: All right Edward!

          I see your point! I suspect what is implied is the idea countries like mine might be more repressive than highly developed countries.
          You might be surprised on the contrary!
          For instance, in Guatemala there is no fear to write articles on alternative medicine, neither doctors suffer from repression for advising usage of traditional natural medicines or treatments.
          It seems 1st world countries control too much what is said about many subjects.
          Remember in the US, long time ago, all kind of medicines were advertised and people could speak and publish articles about the benefits or herbs and other things.

          On the other hand, in 3rd world countries political expressions or social conflict communications get exposed to the dangers of being attacked on the street to be silenced! although President assassinations are not that frequent as in major countries.

          In 1st world countries, repression takes place by being disbarred, licences cancelled, defamation in scientific circles, labeled as Quack, and of course, if herbal products which once were known and still are good for certain illnesses, are labeled with the ability to cure something, very quickly they will get the FDA and other authorities on top of their heads.

          Internet sites are forced to publish disclaimers, when speaking of medicine properties, and if you happen to appear in a show or Internet forum explaining about psychoactive substances you will be banned and removed instantly!

          All in the name of "society" or science. Are governments and scientific institutions adopting a paternalistic attitude, even with the possibility of spanking someone here and there?

          It looks to me as a return to monarchic tyrannies....
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        Aug 18 2013: Nothing implied about Guatemala. I mentioned it simply because you live there. Your views seem well thought-out as though based upon personal experience. Thanks for sharing them. Perhaps off-topic, but do you think marketing claims that are unproven, exaggerated, and even known to be false should not be minimized with regulatory controls? Do you see such control as "monarchic tyranny"?
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          Aug 19 2013: Edward: You are using three words which are quite relative.


          Is it OK then to restrict expressing ideas on unproven things?
          The first to fall would then be scientific assertions, which get "proved" and later contradicted.
          I think unproven things should be taken as seriously as "proven" ones.
          Have scientists proved the Self is a product of brain activity? Totally unproven!
          So, "monarchic tyranny" should ban all talks on the subject...


          What is the measure for an exaggeration? How can we really know if a fact is exaggerated if communications on the subject would be restricted? Maybe the "exaggeration is really something astonishing, ironic or never thought about before!
          But: Aren't we entitled to decide if something is exaggerated or not? Do we need Government offices to tell us what is exaggerated and what is reasonable?

          "Known to be false?"

          Known by whom? Falsity is also a relative word. The idea of Government protecting the "interests of society" could be false. At least it looks like!
          So if the system "knows" something is "false" it is OK to set boundaries on it's discussion.
          Are we so lucky of having censors taking care of what we are given as "true"or "false"? Where is our criteria?
          We don't need it then!

          What today is unproven, might be proved tomorrow. What is now exaggerated might be simplistic tomorrow, what is false today might be true tomorrow....

          Who really knows?
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        Aug 19 2013: RE: "Edward, you are using. . . ". Words have meaning Mike. The three expressions should be interpreted in their common , reasonable application. "Unproven" means a claim or assertion which has no historical supporting evidence. "Exaggerated" is a specific application of the term "unproven". "Known to be false" means a claim or assertion is in clear disagreement with accepted-as-true data (which certainly can change). Again, do you think no claims or assertions deserve to be referred to by any of these terms? Do you advocate for a policy of 100% unrestricted public dissemination of claims or assertions?
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          Aug 19 2013: Hi Edward!
          I am sure we both understand the meaning of those words.
          Precisely because of those meanings is I find unacceptable to apply "restrictions".

          Who is the viable authority to restrict based on which criteria?

          True science claims to be unable to prove a thing. It is possible to demonstrate the feasibility of something or the high probability of being certain about a theory. But to "prove" it beyond doubt is impossible. Except for pure mathematics.

          I could start listing here hundreds of cases where "proven" scientific concepts ended up contradicted by new discoveries. I guess those who discovered the error and launched a radically different theory initially thought the original theory was unproven!

          If you think censorship is justifiable, could you please answer the questions on my previous post?

          I do advocate for Freedom of Expression. If someone thinks a claim is unproven, exaggerated or false he is entitled to say it and to publish it but not to endorse political powers to repress it!

          Such repression can prevent discoveries, rectification of errors and further research into the unproven, exaggerated or supposedly false.

          That is my view!
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        Aug 19 2013: RE: "...I am sure we both understand..." Would you throw yourself, or a beloved family member, from a high cliff on the basis that it cannot be proven beyond doubt that you will die? For all intents and purposes some things are proven. Only in the etherial world of philosophy can it be ruled logical to hurl yourself into the abyss and not expect to die. Imagine someone claims to have a process to change lead into gold. They claim any investment will be returned 100-fold. Do you really oppose the regulation, or repression as you call it, of such a blatant lie meant to rob the ignorant and unsuspecting? Do you really advocate for the rights of such charlatans?
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          Aug 19 2013: Hey Edward!
          You really are pulling the subject to the limits!
          We can see movies, read books and even talks about "throwing yourself into the vacuum and fly". Should we ban all those?
          I don't think any sensible person, forum, or entity would sponsor a "serious" conference on the advantage of flying without wings! Lol!
          But it is anyway happening within performing arts and I don't see why they should be "persecuted"...
          Common sense "proven" things are not the scope of my conversation. It would be really silly from my part. Please don't take me as a radical.
          On the other hand, serious medical magazines speak of the "wonders of chemotherapy and radio"! No matter their actual rate of survival is seriously inflated and twisted. At the same time, non orthodox treatments, supported by hundreds of testimonials, known to work, are forbidden and repressed from publication.
          Also, I don't think an idiot who actually is capable of believing "lead can be turn into gold" should be "protected" by governments, in the sense of forbidding such claims.
          If it actually happens and the subject is a dummy enough then there are Laws against swindlers and con artists. Let the Law act.
          I don't see why if a fantasy fan writes and publishes methods to actually convert lead or cheesecake into gold should be censored.

          We must not accept all laws are fair and just. There are serious mistakes in legislation. The problem now is the introduction of the concept of "conspiracy and intention to commit a crime".

          If you speak the word "bomb" in an airport it will lead you to kiss the ground and have 4 gorillas on top of you, no matter you were telling to a friend the story of Hiroshima!

          Daring to think against the established trend of thought is becoming a bad behavior, and we are subject to repression (not yet by the arms of Law) but repression anyway.

          Do you think Rupert Sheldrake deserved the humiliation he got just by challenging the supremacy of current science?
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        Aug 20 2013: RE: "You really are pulling the subject. . ." I'm just trying to get your answer to a simple question I have asked you twice now: Do you really advocate for the rights of such charlatans? (The charlatans to which I refer are those typified in my examples above, NOT Sheldrake, or any actual person!). Your question as posted, and your comments herein seem to indicate you oppose any form of regulation of expression. You can put it to rest by saying yes or no to my question. Permit me one final attempt please: Do you oppose any and all regulatory effort regarding free expression of information? Please have the last word (I do hope that word ie either "yes" or "no"). I am withdrawing to the sidelines from where I will watch for your answer. Thank you for a vigorous, if trying, episode of free expression!
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    Aug 16 2013: There are typically settings in which you can express any opinion you like on any subject and places that are not available for that purpose.

    If you start lecturing on any subject in a movie house while people are trying to watch the movie, you will likely suffer negative outcomes. But starting a thread on it on an open forum is typically an available opportunity.

    The notion that science is a belief system or involves a variety of belief systems is put forward quite often in TED Conversations and I assume elsewhere as well. Some people will find it interesting and others may be bored of the subject from seeing it so often. So you would get positive, neutral, and negative responses to this or any commonly raised topic.
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      Aug 17 2013: Yes Fritzie!

      People can get bored of whatever subject. Is then boredom a good reason to stop speaking?

      Then we are just finding another facet of expression restriction based on someone's boredom!

      But you are right. Have you seen how boring the atheists can get by trying to dissolve the ideas on God?
      Or commercial scientists, finding anything not fitting their own theories as "pseudo-science" ?

      Or evolutionists trying to force the acceptance of the largest and crudest belief of all, about the wonders of the universe happening by "thermodynamic chance"?

      Creationism ideas are now being attacked and repressed. Truly. Of course by totally blind people incapable of seeing Beauty, Complexity and Order as an absolute product of Creation.

      You will see how what I am saying right now will be subject to shark attacks.... Ready?
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    Aug 16 2013: Are we really free to express ideas which challenge scientific paradigms?
    Probably we will not be subject to a straight rejection but we will experience negative outcomes of varied magnitude.
    What if I wish to propose the notion of science containing a variety of belief systems...
    How would you react?
    I am very interested in discussing the topic!
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      Aug 19 2013: I think that we are free to express our ideas which challenge scientific paradigms.....but it takes a bit of courage to stand up to what are deeply help scientific beliefs.............or any beliefs, for that matter.

      There is quite a bit of misinformation and manipulation of information and data out there.

      It is humanly impossible to know everything about every topic in the entire inhabited earth.....one recent example?........the aspartame conversations here on TED...........who to believe?

      It is a good thing we may enjoy a bit of common sense and that we may have the ability to choose for ourselves what we find works for us.

      As someone who lives in the United States, I am thankful that there is freedom of speech here, and that I am able to enjoy asking people questions, and listening to their explanations and insights on all sorts of subject matter. Also wonderful is the ability to pick up books and magazines on all sorts of subjects and learn.

      It is really a wonderful priviledge.
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        Aug 19 2013: Thanks Mary!
        I share most of your views,
        I might not agree on what you say about Freedom of Speech in the USA,
        Actually it appears to be, but there are lots of repressive methods in place for any communications having to do with what FDA supposedly knows better than anyone.
        Also, not necessarily repression comes from the government alone but in some instances it is very crude.
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        Aug 27 2013: Mary, I have more concerns now than I ever had before that the freedoms you speak of are being diminished. We now know of the breaches in privacy in our phone conversations, drone spying in the US, secret courts, total lack of the transparency we were promised, media promoting political agendas without affording dissenting voices, etc ....

        I find it interesting to watch Fox and any other channel and see what is important enough for lead stories .... write those down and go to BBC, China Today and RT and see what the lead stories are there. Is it possible that we are being manipulated by the media, spin doctors, and the administration.

        I have lost faith in our leadership at the top and in both houses. I try to be a Independent and do read and evaluate party agendas. The problem I have is the issues brought up are about getting votes and should be about the problems facing the country.

        Mary, I agree that we still have more freedoms than most .... I have concerns that those are in jeopardy.
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          Aug 27 2013: Yes Robert, I can see how you, as well as many others are losing faith in the leadership of this country. And many worldwide are losing faith in their country's leadership as well.

          I have never had faith in human leadership Robert.
          I have always seen humans as imperfect individuals who sometimes hold jobs that need super powers.......lol

          I suppose that my faith has a lot to do with my perception of leadership.

          If you will allow me, there is a scripture that states that we should "not put our trust in nobles, nor in the sons of earthly man, since no salvation belongs to them, and eventually they die..." (Psalms 143:3-4, I paraphrased)

          And additionally, we are instructed to be in subjection to the superior authorities, who are placed in their relative positions by God. (Rom. 13:1, 3-5, 7).

          So, the way I understand it Robert, is that while I am a law abiding citizen, I do not faith in humans fixing the problems that affect our world. I don't really worry about politics, because I have a different kind of faith, in a different kind of government that will be established in the future.

          If humankind truly had the ability to correct what ails us, we would have done it a long time ago, when there were less humans on earth.

          Then we would have established a peaceful world, filled with compassion and kindness.

          Do you think that today, with over 6 billion humans on earth, all speaking different languages, human governments can solve our problems?

          It seems that as time goes on, corruption increases. Like you, I also fear that many freedoms are in jeopardy.......who will step in and clean house? We'll have to wait and see.
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        Aug 27 2013: Mary, you raise an important point that humans are human and sometimes in jobs that would seem to require super-powers. When compromises need to be made, or when the best path to solution is not clear, those outside of the arena in which problem-solving is taking place often do not perceive accurately the challenges on the ground, including lack of complete knowledge of the implications of different actions. Rather, so many are quick to assume malevolence or laziness in those with the primary responsibility to act.

        I think answers to many problems are far less clear than the public thinks, and not realizing that is a major source of divisive finger-pointing in many arenas.
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          Aug 27 2013: Wonderful observations.
          Those in leadership roles always face challenging situations, and many times, like you say, there are many details which are unknown to the general public.

          It even happens in the family unit........where the father/mother is trying to deal with an issue, and the kids wonder why they don't do this or that, when in reality, solving the issue is a difficult task, requiring much thought and a good amount of insight.

          I have a lot of respect for those who take the lead........however they might do it, in politics, or in organizations. It is not an easy job, and I am thankful that I am not in their shoes.
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        Aug 27 2013: I do not always admire the character of the one at the helm of something, and I expect you don't either, but I don't think we should blame people for not having all the answers to complex problems or for trying gambits sometimes that fail.