Tag: DC

Free Speech, but Who’s Listening?

It’s March 14. This is the one month anniversary of yet another school shooting in the United States. (It’s also Pi Day.) And a multitude of people exercised their freedom of speech in cities large and small across the country.

Free speech is important. It gives voice to every marginalized and under-served group. In this case, it even let the dead speak again.
But what good is free speech if no one is listening?


This is the thought that occurred to me while I watched the news and scanned videos people posted online.
I read the signs of protesters on the lawn of the U. S. Capitol. Some were catchy. Some were old news. Others made no sense to me at all.

Then I wondered, “Are any of the elected officials who represent the people flooding this grass watching this? Are they listening to what the citizens are saying?”

I had to smile a little at some people who were watching from the sidelines. Making a silent protest for oppositional views because it seemed to make more sense.

Silence as free speech?

Why not? They were likely heard as well as those hollering and shaking their signs.

Because to be heard, someone must listen.

So, America, who’s listening?

I don’t post political or argumentative blogs or memes or articles. Not because I don’t have opinions (uh, anyone who knows me, feel free to sound off about this in the comments). It’s not even because I don’t want to “offend” anyone (because I probably offend plenty of people by staying quiet).

My brand is one of encouragement and hope. I write stories where right wins in the end. Love prevails. Life isn’t perfect and all the pieces don’t fall into place, but there’s a happy ending.

Because there’s plenty of the unhappily-ever-after in real life. I don’t want to read about it, so I’m certainly not going to write about it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t tackle tough subjects. In LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL, my characters face bullying, prejudice and actual assault. Things weren’t calm and easy for them. One reviewer even commented on this being the “gritty side of Sweet Grove.”
Guess what? The world is a gritty place. And the people with grit are the ones who’ll survive in the end.


That’s a common theme in my stories.

Of course, if you haven’t read them, you wouldn’t know. Because if you don’t listen to what I say, you can’t know what I think, how I feel or what’s important to me.

The same can be said of people who speak against guns, abortion, violence, discrimination, harassment or a multitude of other topics that have become “issues” in our world.

On the flip side, if we never listen to those who speak in favor of any of those topics, we won’t know why they think or feel as they do. What is their story? Why are they on the opposite side of the fence from me?

Maybe if we stopped thinking about our own argument and just heard what they said, we could find a middle ground. Or maybe not. Some things need extreme answers.

But there will never be answers as long as no one listens to the questions.

We’ve all had a conversation with that person who starts talking every time we take a breath. They don’t address anything we say or ask, but they do push forth their agenda, their ideas and their programs.

How do we feel during that conversation? Angry? Irritated? Frustrated?

Unheard? And thus unimportant?

It’s no wonder that their is so much division and arguing and discontent in our country. The majority of people are being ignored (or at least feel as if they are).

Sure, they speak. But no one listens. How do I know? Because the political, religious, economic and racial agendas keep being pushed forward. And no one addresses the concerns of the average person.

You can’t address what you don’t hear.

I applaud the founders of the U.S. for pushing for a Bill of Rights to protect free speech (as well a numerous other liberties). I wish they would have written in a clause mandating listening (with the intent of hearing and understanding not debating or rebutting).
Apparently, you can’t legislate listening any more than you can legislate morality.


Do you have a sure-fire way to be heard when you speak? Give it up. Let’s figure out a way to employ it with Congress.

When I’m THAT Person

Confession time. *cringes* Sometimes I do exactly the thing I despise when other people do it. Yes, I’m THAT person. And it makes me feel worse than ashamed.

I’m sure there are dozens of examples of this shortcoming. However, a recent one nags at the back of my mind. I hope by letting it hang out here, it will stop plaguing my supposed-to-be-sleeping time.

THAT Person

Close to two decades ago now, I had my first opportunity to travel somewhere simply because my husband was going there for work.

At the time, I had two preschool-aged children, so it’s safe to say I didn’t get out much. I NEVER got out of the state.

My husband had a class in Gaithersburg, MD, which is less than an hour from our nation’s capital. He was there for two weeks and wanted me to fly down for the weekend he had to stay over.

Since it was near tax refund time, he opted to use some of the refund money to purchase my plane ticket. Other than food and entertainment (much of which is 100 percent free in DC), that was the largest expense.

At a family dinner a week or two before the trip, I was babbling excitedly about getting away and seeing the history in Washington, DC.

THAT person asked, “How long are you going to be there?”

“Two days.”

“That’s not enough time to see anything.”

Balloon of excitement immediately deflates for me. I did manage to listen as Killjoy suggested what my top sightseeing priorities should be, but really I wanted to cry.

(Much of my reaction had to do with this person because they seemed intent on demeaning anything I ever talked about or did.)

THAT Person is Me

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago.

Someone was making a spur-of-the-moment trip to Virginia with their family. They didn’t plan to have much free time, but they wanted to get to Washington, DC.

Side note: if you’re an American citizen and have never visited the nation’s capital, you owe yourself a trip. I’m not much of a history buff, but there is so much there and it brings important people and events of our national heritage to life.

My husband was talking about parking problems and other things.

I said, “A few hours? That’s not enough time to see anything.”

Yes, indeed. I actually said the EXACT same words as THAT person. In that moment, I was THAT person, throwing my wet blanket over someone else’s excitement.

My husband gave me a side-long glare, but he didn’t say anything. He still hasn’t said anything. But as often as I’ve brought up THAT person’s negative tone, I know he had to be thinking about it.

His look said, “Really? You’re going to be THAT person? Don’t you remember how crushed you felt when that happened?”

And suddenly I did.

I’m a jerk extraordinaire. I’ve plummeted to an all-time low point in human compassion.

Kill me now.

Okay, let’s not go overboard.

But it was too late to take the words back. I was no longer standing in the conversation to try and backtrack and apologize.

So here is my very public apology. I’m sorry for being a total jerk about your quick trip to DC. I hope you got to see some incredible things and soak in the nostalgic air of patriotism.

I don’t want to be THAT person. Never again.

What about you? Have you ever done something similar? Please, save me from feeling like the biggest cruel idiot in the world.