When Free Means You Pay

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  So by their fruits you will know them.”  Matthew 7:18-20

The freedom of expression is an inherent right of a person.  When it is suppressed or taken away, the normal human reaction is to fight for it,  just like any other person would, when his other rights as a human being are threatened.

Expression of one’s self can be manifested in a variety of means and form – in his speech, his manner of dressing, in art.  Whereas, there is no hard line rule on the “how”, indeed there lies in our sensibilities as civilized human beings, norms that dictate when one breaks the universal, though unwritten law where freedom ends and respect begins.

Expression of one’s self means to convey a message to another or a group for whatever purpose he intends to. One does not exercise that right just for the heck of it.  Aware or not, expression is communication.

What we choose to wear is a message about how we want to be perceived.  Such as, we don’t wear provocative dresses and expect others to think that we are conservative.  The same when we speak.  We don’t expect others to regard us seriously, when all that comes out from our mouth is rubbish.  in both ways, we communicate to others what our preferences are, and from that, inference about who we are is derived.

Journalism and visual arts are no different.  But there are instances when the freedom is used and abused.  And the right to freedom of expression is invoked like a safe hiding place for anticipated negative reactions. That is where trouble begins.  Responsible freedom of expression does not necessitate the invocation of a right.  That safe refuge of effective communication is handed on a golden platter without hesitation or fear.

Yes, there are ugly truths and gruesome realities that need to be known and shared so that the beautiful and the good could be achieved.  But if the expression of the ugly and the gruesome is done just “for the sake of art”, then freedom becomes a scary right to invoke.  when it is done to express oneself without purpose and without regard to the sensibilities of one person or the collective perception of one culture, race or faith,  then it is reduced to self-indulgence and selfishness personified.

To Christians, the art works of Mideo Cruz are offensive and sacrilegious.  To him, it is art, his freedom to express himself.  Our  humanity gauges how much we can tolerate. we need not see or hear more, we’ve had just enough. And to most, enough is way beyond tolerable level.

Let the forum at the CCP exhibit on “Politeismo” be an eye-opener not only for artists and writers, but for all of us.  We, who in the course of our daily lives just talk before we even think.  We who often just do, before we even consider to whose benefit our actions bring forth.  if our self-expression will bring pleasure and fulfillment to ourselves, yet cause the pain and anguish of another, or sow anger and hatred… Please stop!

Self-restraint for the good of the majority is a choice.  It’s time to exercise the freedom to choose.  And pray, our choices be wise.  For by their fruits, we shall know them…

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

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