This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Freedom of speech, and tolerance of other religious and political views

My family, the Puritans, would have been the last to tolerate the type of freedom of speech and tolerance of other religious and political views that the new United States of America embraced. And because of that, "Puritanical" thinking, which is synonymous with intolerance, has become something of a cliche that most people are familiar with.

So while they're my family, I won't defend them. As a citizen of the United States of America, I defend the concept of the right to freedom of speech, and tolerance of diverse thought.

If you're puzzled nowadays how all of this works, it's not surprising. It's a fairly new idea for the human condition, to allow so many different points of view to guide a country. Up until the founding of the United States, most countries were run by very few people, such as Kings and Aristocrats. And it kept order, but it limited freedom in a way that the new United States wanted to break away from. And of course the people in power wanted to destroy this concept, and put things back to the way that they had been for thousands of years. The United States has fought many wars to defend this freedom, and won.

Although the expression "melting pot" has been used for the United States, it never really happened that the people living there all just "melted" into the same way of thinking, the same political views, the same religion. The United States is a country of people living next door to each other of widely varying religions, and political views. And that can lead to tension, if not violence, if people forget the principles that the country was founded on.

I do not support my neighbor's political candidate, nor do I attend their church. But they're friends of mine, and I defend their right to make their choices freely. I do not stand on my yard and shout them down, but if we talk, I may speak of my beliefs, and I listen to theirs. That's what freedom of speech is.
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