Eradicate Insecurity. Empower Posterity. Engender Invincibility.

Integral to Humanity



With the sad and shocking news of the shootings in the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, I cannot help but feel distressed because something as precious as freedom of speech is once again being threatened. In the aftermath of the controversy surrounding Sony Pictures’ ‘The Interview’ and now with this unbearably tragic incident, I am beginning to question whether freedom of speech is being valued in the way that it should – and the way that it must. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are integral to humanity and to the progression of society.

We are all familiar with the excitement of a parent when their baby finally utters their first word – even if it’s as weird and unusual as ‘gleba’ (for all my fellow ‘Friends’ lovers, Ross’ face when he proclaims that Emma is “going to be a scientist!” is immortal in its hilariousness). This first word is so special because this moment marks the point when a unique individual, whose singular genetic make-up will never grace the earth again, develops the ability to make one’s self known to the world. Our ideas, our thoughts and our opinions shape the person we are as soon as they are birthed in our minds but they begin to shape the world when they are spoken. Although human beings are fairly sociable creatures, we are still relatively insular; there are some things that we do not share or rather, cannot share with others simply because words cannot express everything. They do not fathom that moment of insurmountable sorrow nor comprehend that ethereal moment of joy. They cannot evince that sound, that sight, that sense.

Free speech to me, however, goes beyond words that are spoken out of my mouth. Freedom of speech finds fulfilment in writing, in music, in art and in whatever form we choose to express ourselves. The world is a big place and in it is a plethora of views and opinions, some I find inspiring, others merely terrifying but without this diversity, the world would be awfully dull. I am not neglecting the fact that some beliefs are indeed dangerous and could end up causing harm if allowed to linger and to perpetuate. I personally do not agree with or care for many of the illustrations produced by Charlie Hebdo; I find it disheartening that people abuse the right to free speech by deliberately causing offence. But if we were only ever presented with one perspective on everything, our minds would never evolve, never dare to think outside the box: we would completely stifle our intellectual curiosity. The song of the world would indeed be increasingly pleasing to our ears if we got to alter its lyrics and the sentiments they represent to our liking but ultimately, it would be incomplete and surprisingly out of tune. If I see or hear something that I do not agree with, it cements what I do agree with. If I hear something that incites hate, it provokes my yearning to see love, if I see something that incites war, it fuels me in my fight for peace and when words of oppression are merely whispered, it urges me to shout all the louder for justice.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to develop a deep sense of gratitude for life in itself and for the underestimated beauty that each day holds. Valuing and cherishing my freedom of speech will be the first step towards achieving this goal. I will harness this power that has been afforded us and I will use it for the good.

An Everlasting Voice



Nelson Mandela is a universal icon of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. He is the epitome of unyielding determination. In light of the news of his declining health, so much that he is reportedly ‘still unable to speak’, I began to reflect on my gratitude that he did once speak up; he refused to remain silent about the racial injustice which surrounded him. He may have momentarily lost his ability to be vocal, nevertheless, he represents the voice of all those who rise up against the challenges of a dysfunctional society.

How many of us are saddened by horrific news stories, let out a despairing sigh and then flick over to our favourite channel; ready for some light-hearted humour, instantly forgetting the weight of reality. How many of us are so quick to criticise the problems of ‘Society Today’ but are so slow to act? I am…I was. And I regret to admit it. Those bursts of passion we feel when we know something is not right are sparks within us, and they are set alight for a reason. They should ignite that inherent quality in all of us, that feeling of invincibility that wants to ‘Change The World’. We must fuel our fire with perseverance and zeal and ward off the waves of fear and self-doubt which threaten to snuff it out.

We are in no way ‘Superheroes’; we don’t possess cloaks of invisibility, we can’t fly, nor can we read minds or teleport but we don’t need to be. The world is a masterpiece and we, as humanity, are the artists. We have the power to add colour to the dark shades of society. Paint red with love the houses that are filled with hatred, paint yellow with joy the places full of pessimism and paint blue with peace the corners of conflict. The world is in need of more voices, of those who will sing amidst the silence, dance amidst the stillness and shine amidst the darkness.

The song of the universe is not a one-part melody. It is a harmony.

N.B. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela who passed away on the 05/12/13, two weeks after I posted this. Your legacy lives on.

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