The Power of Peace | Teen Ink

The Power of Peace

April 9, 2018
By Anonymous

“Freedom of speech” is an understatement of the power words can achieve. People use the term “cross the line”, but we all of a different vision of this line, we all believe it’s crossed at different points. If people could listen not to respond, but to understand what was being said the world would be developmentally better. The protest is a common word recently, but the words peaceful protest have grown rare and people discussing problems seems unknown. It’s hard to hear what people are trying to say when voices constantly speak to each other. What you have to say just becomes a drop of water in the sea of voiced opinions. When have we said too much? Is there a point when free speech switches to careless talk? Words are powerful but only when they’re heard, speech is the cornerstone of society understanding how we feel and limiting that’s unacceptable but supporting unreasonable and unkind words is also unacceptable, where do we draw the line?

It’s one thing to spark flame on campus, to voice your opinion, gather those who agree and disagree, to debate, discuss, and solve. It’s different to set literal flames on campus because you disagree with someone's opinion, or don’t have to audacity to listen and try to understand what they say. Those who took part in the protest at Berkeley say they believed that the speech of Milo Yiannopoulos would be racist and against equality in many ways. I find it ironic that the students protesting on this college campus were discriminating and taking away this man's voice and freedom of speech to have their own. They say they were protesting against him because of “discrimination” which caused the school to cancel his speech. His past hurtful words give a reason for this canceling. We say we protest for those who don’t have a voice, yet we drown out people who try to have a voice. I believe if some silenced people had the opportunity to voice their opinion and the so-called “peaceful” protesters truly listened, with an open-mind, they’d develop a new understanding of the topic. Therefore causing a new outcome, a more serene outcome at that.

You don’t need to silence someone else to be heard, why people don’t understand that I’ll always fail to comprehend. The same concept as “knocking someone else down doesn’t make you taller” or “blowing out another's light doesn’t make yours brighter”. Two lights are brighter than one, two voices despite opposing opinions, create a stronger outcome than one. Newton Lee tells us “There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech incites violence” and I believe this is the clearest way to state this. Hate speech shreds people of sanity and self-respect, but free speech saves sanity and boosts your self-respect. There is plenty freedom of speech, what we lack is quality and clarity of speech along with equality of speech.These words, are very different than my previous ones. If you don’t know why both sides are fighting why study the war? In other words, we need to hear and understand both sides of why or why not the free speech on campus needs boundaries and then decided our position on this debate. If we could all peacefully have our voices heard without violence and cruelty, the world and specific campuses would grow to be more peaceful. I’ve found that the power of silence and peace trumps the power of violence and trying to speak over one another.

In our day and age dependence is common. Therefore your mindset and what you choose to do with situations is up to you. There's a Chinese proverb saying “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and others build windmills”, this statement is exactly what I mean. When voices are spoken out on campus, when people want change, you decide whether you’re in denial of the process. You may be the person who feels too strongly of the topic to the point so you can’t contain your emotions (these are the people who develop peaceful into violent protest) or you want to make a difference. You want to take advantage of the opportunity given to say how you feel and see all voices, including your own, heard peacefully and equally.

No students, even me, as a freshman in high school, want a person to come to my school and preach discrimination. I believe they’re here for a reason if traveling to talk to us, if speaking-out what he believes is his passion, we should respectfully listen. It disappoints me, to hear that students are protesting against people who just like them, want to be heard. They don’t know the true message to be delivered. I respectfully listen to opinions, despite my opinion. Until I know what they have to say and why they have to say it, I won’t silence them. Replacing one set of hateful words with another is making no advancements in these colleges and it needs to be stopped. We need to learn to listen and know when to speak. I find that peaceful protest should only be developed when people are silenced. In these colleges, they’re far from silenced. They’re being taught to voice their contradicting opinions peacefully, but this learning process has been failing. With the research, I’ve done, and information I’ve provided here, you can tell as well as I that both sides of the debate on free speech on campus have a good reason behind them. My simple wish, for schools, and America is that we’d listen before we act, and not listen because we should but listen to understand. By taking that stand and doing that, I believe we’ll become more peaceful and colleges will become a place of education and growth again rather than a place of fighting and violence for the silenced.

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