Freedom — A Powerful Word

Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. Freedom of peaceable assembly. Freedom to petition the government.  These are all rights guaranteed by the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, of abridging the …” above mentioned freedoms.

Along with freedoms and rights comes responsibility.  These freedoms exist to the extent that they don’t trample the rights of others. Freedoms have to be exercised responsibly. For example, a person can’t run into a building and yell FIRE when there is none and claim to be exercising his freedom of speech. 

A rather disgruntled employee once asked me during a sexual harassment workshop, “What about my freedom of speech?”  It’s the government that can’t make laws prohibiting the free exercise of speech, not your employer. Private employers can implement policies and curtail behavior to assure that their workplaces are respectful ones. We’ve come across some great stories that reflect this – stories we’ve included in our next book.

As you celebrate Independence Day this Thursday, reflect on our freedoms and the responsibilities that go along with them.  Cherish your freedoms and respect the freedoms of others.  

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