Constraints on your freedom to express truth are only discovered when the things you say rub up against them. Like spiderwebs, such constraints are difficult to see beforehand and irritating to shake off.
Constraints on thought and speech seldom get reversed or revisited, and are often strengthened with time. Those setting these constraints underestimate the dangers of limiting autonomous minds in light of perceived benefits of manipulation, propaganda, and control.
The aforementioned benefits of constraints on the freedom to express yourself are not inherently nefarious. For instance, corporate culture at any given company seeks to manipulate those within it to favor products they make, and not praise a competitor’s attempts at biting off profits. It makes business sense.
However, with enough time, a constant state of being constrained in things you can say and think aggravates and depresses. Your state of personal autonomy becomes numbed by attempts of the systems in place to decrease challenges they must address. Some of these systems indeed operate with nefarious goals; in times when expressing truth is morally not only justifiable, but essential.
This article is for those who elect to not only rub against the constraints on their speech in any given context, but to break through.
Limiting Your Aggression in Your Expression Will Pay Off
Saying the unsayable entices emotions to rise. Voices shake in candid conversations and yours will too should what you say be true enough. These feelings of vulnerability in the face of authentic expression can encourage you to mask them with aggression and unneeded emotions when delivering what you believe to be true.
It’s important you don’t allow these emotions to affect your delivery of objective facts. Your goal should be to allow your audience nothing to interpret other than the exact truth. Should you allow unnecessary emotion to enter the picture, the points you seek to express will become diluted. There will be excuses for your audience to ignore the truth and punish you for emotion or aggression.
One way to limit your aggression in your expression is to use factual and objective language, rather than emotional and subjective dialogue. For example, instead of saying “This policy is unfair and oppressive”, you could say “This policy has negative impacts on these groups of people, Here’s how:”. This way, you can avoid triggering defensive reactions from those who disagree with you, and appeal to their rationality instead.
Acknowledge the perspectives and values of others, even if you do not share them. For example, instead of saying “You are wrong and ignorant”, you could say “I understand where you are coming from, but I have a different view”. This way, you can show respect and empathy for those who differ from you, and invite them to engage in a constructive dialogue rather than a hostile argument.
Choose the appropriate time and place for your speech, rather than blurting out your truth whenever and wherever you feel like it. For example, instead of saying “This company is corrupt and unethical” in a public meeting, you could say “I have some concerns about this company’s practices” in a private conversation with someone who can address them. This way, you can avoid creating unnecessary conflict and backlash, and increase the chances of being heard and taken seriously by someone who can action your feedback.
Allow Time for Truth To Settle, Do Not Vehemently Defend Trivial Attempts To Discredit You
Let it sink in. Do not expect immediate applause or agreement from your audience. They may need some time to process what you have said and how it challenges their assumptions or beliefs. Be patient and respectful of their reactions, even if they are negative or hostile.
Avoid getting into arguments or debates over minor details or irrelevant points. Some people may try to discredit you by nitpicking your words or finding flaws in your logic. Do not waste your energy or time on defending yourself against these trivial attacks. Focus on the main message and the evidence that supports it. If you have done your research and presented your facts clearly, you do not need to justify yourself further.
Prepare yourself for the possible consequences of speaking the truth. Depending on the context and the stakes, you may face backlash, criticism, censorship, or even punishment from those who disagree with you or feel threatened by you. You should weigh the risks and benefits of telling the truth before you do so, and be ready to accept the outcomes. You should also seek support from allies who share your views or values, and who can help you cope with the challenges ahead.
Allow the Punishment To Expose Its Own Injustice
As someone who has made the decision to express the truth in the face of constraints on your freedom to do so, you’re likely aware of the potential consequences. Your decision to break rules that serve to stifle your freedom to express yourself will position you to feel the brunt of their effects.
Acknowledge and respect the rules that you have broken and demonstrate your integrity and honesty in the situation. Allow the predetermined punishment to seem unjust in the face of the crime of calmly saying what is true. Ensure that the punishment clearly contrasts against the seemingly innocuous act of saying the truth. People tend to notice unjust punishments without needing to do much publicizing.
A way to handle the looming punishment for saying the truth is to expose its unjust nature. By documenting and publicizing the details of your case, you can show how the constraints on your speech are arbitrary, oppressive, and harmful. You can also appeal to higher authorities or institutions that may have the power to intervene or overturn the punishment. This strategy requires courage, persistence, and a strong sense of justice.
Do Not Fall Into the Trap of Playing the Victim
The goal of your overall adventure of expressing your freedom to say what you know to be true is not to victimize yourself. Instead, the goal is to ensure the truth is heard; without necessarily even being accepted.
Allowing yourself to be emotionally affected by the unjust punishment for saying something that is true can encourage you to draw attention to your victimhood status. Rather, all attention should always be on the truth that has been expressed.
Drawing attention to how much of a victim of unfair punishment you are / were takes away from whatever truth it is that you exposed. Playing the victim can also make you lose sight of your purpose and weaken your resolve.
Another reason to avoid playing the victim is that it can backfire and make you seem less credible or sympathetic. People who are constantly complaining about how they are persecuted for their views may alienate others who do not share their perspective or who have different priorities. Playing the victim can also make you vulnerable to manipulation or exploitation by those who may use your plight for their own agenda.
Therefore, do not fall into the trap of playing the victim when you face looming punishment for saying the truth. Instead, focus on the facts and the evidence that support your position, and appeal to the reason and conscience of your audience. Do not let your emotions cloud your judgment or your message. Remember that your goal is not to gain sympathy or pity, but to expose and challenge the constraints on your freedom of expression.