(A Short Critique on Freedom of Expression and Religious Tolerance)
By Rado Gatchalian
I ALWAYS agree that freedom of expression, belief, and speech shall be inherent rights of a person. However, such freedom is not only a privilege but a responsibility. We breathe and take this freedom naturally like a precious gift. But this gift shall, at the same time, be exercised with caution and be used responsibly. Freedom, in any forms, is given as an act of law or as a personal natural attribute. But there is no absolute freedom where we can just do whatever we want for the sake of exercising such “freedom.”
I do not disagree with the philosophical and political statements of Celdran. I understand his sentiments. I admire his guts and courage.
Or I may not agree with what he expressed but I will defend his rights to say it.
But I will defend it only if he said it in a proper way and in the right venue. There is always a proper way: a way which will not offend others. There is always a proper venue: a venue which will not disrespect others. If what he did will be done in other countries – I am sure he will be dead by now. No need to mention which countries.
As such, I will not appreciate religious extremists or fundamentalists to disturb, in exercise of their freedom, a congregation or gatherings of humanists, atheists, or agnostics. So what makes it extra-special for intellectuals, freethinkers, and social activists to disrespect a religious event or gathering such as Mass? None – except a cheap act of this so called “exercise of freedom.” I totally understand their frustrations and sentiments against fallacies, historical errors, superstitions, and religious dogmas – but how can we expect religious groups to understand our intellectualism and radicalism if we cannot maintain emotional maturity and social protocol? Will it just become an unending cycle where rationalists become like fundamentalists?
Freethinkers and philosophers are strong agents of social change. But for a society to grow and develop into a progressive and sustainable community – a reasonable level of respect and tolerance should be exercised by everybody: whatever beliefs they have.
A utopian society does not exist however. The reason is our differences – of beliefs, religions, morals, backgrounds, etc. It is impossible for us to believe in only one idea. That would be crazy. We cannot please anyone. We cannot expect everyone to blindly follow religious commands. Likewise, we cannot expect everyone to abandon faith. A utopian society, if there is one, will just mean a free society.
But we do not need a perfect world – we only need a responsible free world. “You respect mine and I will respect yours” is the only tool to maintain a free world: free from hatred, free from misjudgment.
We already have enough of religious injustices and inquisition. These are the things of the past. Today is a new era of a free and modern informative society where enlightenment and knowledge can be easily accessed anywhere at our fingertips.
Padre Damaso should have been dead long long time ago…
But he still lingers everywhere. When will we stop corruption? When will we prioritise quality public education? When will we clean our environment? When will we help the poor? When will we defend the rights of children? When will we give women equal rights as men? When will we give equal opportunities between poor and rich?
The political protests do not need to happen inside the Church.
It shall spark in your heart and in my heart…