Crossing the Line

A few days ago, I met up with a long-time friend from the UK who was passing through Hong Kong. After catching up on family news, we talked about events in Europe, Paris in particular, the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine, and the role of the media. We talked about freedom of speech, each seeing it as a human right. I then found myself asking about the personal responsibility that comes with freedom of speech. Did the French satirical magazine cross the line? Our conversation became quite animated!

Many clients explore the subject of freedom; and freedom means different things to different people. For some, it’s about doing what they love; for others it’s about feeling free to be who they really are. Some clients don’t feel free to share what they think or feel with others. They may lack confidence and feel unsure of what they think or feel. Some are afraid of what others might think of their opinion, some worry that they might upset others or make them angry, some have been taught not to challenge authority.

Communicating what we think and feel can be challenging. We want to speak what is true for us, and, we want to be mindful of the impact our words and the tone of our communication might have on others.

In communicating what is true for us, we are respecting our self; and, I remind myself, I want to respect others, which means treating others as I would like to be treated, i.e. not intentionally causing them harm. How others receive what we say is of course their responsibility.

The media’s job is to sell. They undoubtedly influence mass consciousness. Did they cross the line in this instance? What do you think?


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