Be Thankful for what we Have



            It is amazing how watching a crisis unfold can remind us of how fortunate we are.  Although burdened by our own problems, the crisis in Egypt should remind Americans how fortunate we are that we live in a country that respects our freedoms and our voices.

            As a journalism professor at Texas Southern University, I start off every semester teaching my Law and Ethics of Journalism class about the social reasons behind the First Amendment, which grants freedom of speech, expression, press and religion.

            The reasons behind this constitutional right are discovery of truth, checks on government, participation in democracy and social stability.  The crisis in Egypt provided an excellent teaching tool for the latter reason.

            I constantly hear many associates voice their displeasure, and probably justifiably so, with discussing politics and religion.  Americans are infamously known for becoming hostile with anyone who has a different viewpoint than themselves.  Furthermore, because of religious and political intolerance, violence unfortunately is sometimes the result of have differing convictions. 

            Nevertheless, aren’t you glad that you live in a country that freely lets you discuss your displeasure with government and also allows you to “fire” any elected official who has not been getting the job done?

            The crisis in Egypt is a reminder of what happens when human beings do not have a voice.  It is virtually impossible to oppress people forever without facing some sort of uprising.  Just as the United States Constitution grants us freedom of speech to ensure social stability, we can see by the crisis in Egypt how unstable things can become when you hold people down for so long.  The crisis in Egypt became more unstable today when President Hosni Mubarak announced he was not stepping down as president despite reports to the contrary.

            In addition, I have heard many media critics criticize journalism for promoting negative and immoral images through the media.  Many believe that since the media is so big and powerful and reaches practically everyone, journalists are responsible for the immorality of all Americans.

            However, aren’t you glad that you live in a society, where journalists are free to do their job and truthfully inform you about what’s going on the society that you live in?  While the American media definitely has its flaws, the crisis in Egypt should let us know how important reporters are to our daily lives.  The Egyptian government went so far as to block use of the Internet and news networks like Al-Jazeera.

            While America certainly is not a perfect country, it is definitely one of the best countries when it comes to respecting the rights of all of its citizens.  The crisis in Egypt is unlikely to happen in the States because when you let people freely express their viewpoints they usually go away satisfied that at least their voices have been heard by the powers that be.

            However, when you suppress those political opinions they usually boil until a deadly eruption results.  While it is certainly OK to not want to talk about politics and religion or to criticize the influence the media, the crisis in Egypt shows the ugly alternative.  And sometimes, a simple argument over politics or religion is better than outright political upheaval.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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