Know Your Rights But Know When They Cross The Line

The first amendment states that you have the right to express freedom of speech, religion, of assembly, of the press and to petition. This is the amendment that essentially allows us to have an opinion and not be afraid to say it aloud without the consequences of government intervention. This is why we see both sides of the political spectrum marching for what they believe is right and chanting for changes they want to see happen in our country. But can a chant be taken too far, can a protest turn violent?

Of course, it can. We have seen peaceful protests turn violent, coming from both red and blue sides. We, as a nation, are not shocked when we see events like this happening on the news. But how about if it happened right in front of you? Would it make you feel a different way rather than feeling the secondhand effects from the television screen? What if someone at that rally was traumatized by someone's words or what if you knew someone who felt the negative reverberations due to someone's political agenda? I have seen it and I have felt it.

I believe there is a line and once it is crossed the debates turn into arguments which then turn into ignorance. You are no longer using your first amendment right if you choose to use it solely as an offense mechanism. Of course, everyone has the right to their own opinion and they are most certainly allowed to fight for what they think is right, but once you decided to not consider the other side's viewpoint; you're only fighting for yourself. And that is not progressive thinking.

Being progressive requires intersectional thinking. The tunnel vision of your own beliefs is dangerous and we need to learn how to widen that tunnel. For example, during the midterm elections, I noticed a lot of people joining in on the campaign discussion, which is amazing! I also wanted to take the time to listen to what people wanted for Arizona despite whether the "change" they were striving for was a Democratic or Republican one. The power of listening to both sides goes a long way. You never want to miss an opportunity to take into consideration someone else's experiences and why they believe what they believe. And while we should never be afraid to state our own opinions, we also should not shut out someone else's.

I know that politics can get messy sometimes and I know that you think your belief is the right one, trust me I have been there. But I think we all need to learn how to be more open-minded; whether you're a Conservative or a Liberal. Chants and protests only go so far unless you have evidence to back up your words or else you're just putting up an empty fight. The first amendment is a beautiful thing but should be used wisely and with as much grace as possible.

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