95% of people believe what they read. See? Did you believe that?
One of the privileges we all enjoy as a part of our democracy is freedom of speech. It’s even more evident now as we watch what is happening in other parts of the world. However, with freedom comes responsibility.
I believe the freedoms we have to express ourselves come with the obligation to speak truth to one another. It’s disingenuous to use freedom of speech to spread mistruths or fraudulent statements. It deepens our division and seeds mistrust. But lately, that seems to be happening a lot.
Part of the problem is that information–whether true or false–spreads quickly today. It’s in front of us 24-7. For the most part, access to information is a good thing. Except when its purpose is to sow doubt. The latter seems to be the case lately, especially when it comes to what is or is not happening in our schools.
I don’t believe educators have purposely stacked school libraries with books intended to corrupt children. I don’t know of any school that teaches critical race theory–most of us educators hadn’t heard of CRT until recently. And I would never believe schools are placing litter boxes in bathrooms to accommodate students who identify as cats and dogs. But a lot of people are making these and other claims, leading some to believe them.
I’m sure there are bad teachers. Just like there are bad cops, bad politicians, bad doctors, and so on. But the vast majority of teachers, like all of the above, entered the profession to do good, to serve and to make their schools, communities and our nation better.
Maybe eventually, this will pass. I hope that is the case. I am hopeful that most people see through the misinformation. But even so, I am concerned that the current discourse, irrational as it is, may have already caused lasting damage.
Again, let’s look at what’s happening in other parts of our world. Imagine living in a place where speaking your mind could land you in prison or worse. Let’s not take for granted the rights we have and the power of being united by our democracy. At the same time, let’s acknowledge that those rights are worthless if we exploit them to mislead one another and divide us.