On freedom of thought, and our guarded opinions

The best journalists know that readers are primarily interested in themselves, not the writer. Worthwhile topics are in the public interest and writing should inform, teach, and state opinions. It’s the opinions that get divisive, and for most non-professional writers, sharing them can come into conflict with our key concern: employment.

A person who becomes ingrained as a worker in the wage-for-labor model carefully guards their opinions, because our world has attached agreement with our employers, and their customers, to an otherwise simple transaction. In some cases a particular opinion becomes the widely accepted correct one that leaves individuals on both sides of the HR desk pretending to agree with that one. Because wages, sales, awards, profits, and the holy Brand depend on the perception that the company, and its employees are with it, whatever it is.

We have let ourselves slip into the scenario where freedom of thought and expression are hampered by Capital. So the executive keeps equally quiet on the topic of his own thoughts as the employee.

This is strikingly true in the case of the executive of the United States government, whose current political stance on abortion rights comes into conflict with his religion’s official doctrine—a very public example of the tension between personal belief, or a politically expedient one, and the one he is expected to share with his group. As members of multiple groups, we all share in this tension.

I think the only way out is to state our ideas honestly before the contradictions of our various groups make hypocrites of us all.