Letter to the editor: Listening an important part of right to Freedom of Speech

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” —Amendment One of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Freedom of Speech, perhaps this is the amendment closest to our hearts. Didn’t our patriot forefathers want nothing more than to tell ole King George to go suck a lemon? Weren’t they fed up with Tommy tea drinker, telling them what they could and couldn’t say? The Freedom of Speech is the foundation of our society; without it, we would be unable to enact any form of change. We would still be subject to a tyrannical form of government, living in fear for the rest of our days. 
Isn’t it our fundamental right to have our message heard? If we choose to express ourselves in the way the Constitution outlines, then I would argue yes, we should be heard. The people cannot live in unity without the government, so we must follow the mandates that it legally sets before us. That being said, the government cannot operate without the approval of the people. The people are what legitimizes the government’s existence. If the government refuses to acknowledge the will of the people, it will ultimately fall. 
People often get caught up in their own messages and they forget that other people also have the right to be heard. Like there are two sides to every story, there are two equally important sides to our Freedom of Speech; the first being our ability to speak. When our voices must be heard, our arguments should be presented in a logical and articulate way. Even though we can and should speak with emotion, we shouldn’t allow our emotions to get the best of us. Once we become overly excited, our argument loses all of its merit. 
Along with our ability to speak, we should also enhance our ability to listen. If we are unable to listen to what others have to say, then why should we be heard? Isn’t that hypocritical? You cannot have a conversation if you are the only one speaking. Instead of dominating the entire conversation, let the other party say their piece. Some people are excellent at letting the other person speak, but even though they hear the person’s words, they do not listen to the content.
Instead, they use this opportunity to think of what they will say next. Even though it is hard to truly hear other people’s messages, we should make it a habit to truly listen. If we listen to what others say, we will comprehend their meaning and gain a better understanding of who we are speaking to. 
So listen fully, take a moment to comprehend what has been said, gather your thoughts, and deliver an articulate counter argument. This is the key to coherent communication. If we correctly practice our Freedom of Speech, we will erase all lines that have been drawn. We will tear down any walls that have been built. We will be one people, living in one nation. We will truly be, the United States of America.
Matthew Gorton

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