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  • Jennifer Z. Major

Tell me the difference.

What is the difference between speaking your mind, and abusing your privilege?

Many businesses and companies have what they call a "code of conduct". Roughly translated, that means "when you're identified with us, don't say something truly stupid, totally political, or that is entirely your own opinion".

When a person acquires a certain level of public recognition, that person is often asked his or her thought or interpretation of an issue.

We used to tell our kids, "remember, you're a Major" and/or "don't shame the family".

I remember once, when one of them decided to try out a rather meaty cuss word, I said, "You think that's fine, do you?"

"Yeah, everyone says it!"

"Okay, if you want to say that? Phone Grandma and say it to her. If she's fine with it, go right ahead and say it all you want."

I never heard that word again.

And no, we did not need to call either Grandma. Who I am positively certain would have not been pleased at all.

Anyway, back to my question.

In many cultures, there's an equivalent to "I'm just speaking my mind". Great. Fine. Speak on, I say. But in some places, that'll get you in serious trouble. In Western culture, it usually doesn't.

Unless you carry an opinion that is not shared by people with platforms and microphones.

That we have the right to say whatever we want does not mean we should. That we might be so famous that we never have to introduce ourselves, does not give us the right to expound our opinions as if the majority of our listeners agree.

Two examples...Meryl Streep, and Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Meryl Streep is without a doubt the most amazing actress of our time. She is an accomplished woman and it is magical to watch her work.

But she is not a political pundit. But because she used live television to share her comments, *I* interpret that as what's known as a "bully pulpit". The viewers were ambushed. No one asked for her thoughts on anything other than her professional contributions.

While I respect Ms. Streep's skills, I disagree with her privileged use of live television to expound on her thoughts on bullying. Which is odd. Because, in my opinion, she kinda acted like a bully.

Chip and Joanna Gaines were slammed by a Buzzfeed article on their church and their personal beliefs. What did they do?

They waited and when the time was right, they shared their thoughts on their blog.

Got that? THEIR blog. Any reader who went looking could learn their thoughts and opinions on being publically challenged and bullied for their beliefs.

By the way, they were totally gracious and kind in their response. You can read that here:

So, in a nutshell, we have this conundrum: the world is saying "you can believe whatever you want as long as I agree with you, and if you don't, I will shame the living daylights out of you because I have the right to free speech".

And what does God say? Look at Colossians 3:1-3

"Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.…"

Jesus never shamed anyone for the sincere questions they asked Him, or for the lifestyles they were in. He never shamed good people who found themselves in harm's way or in big trouble that swallowed them whole. Even the prostitutes and tax collectors felt safe and loved in His presence.

He lovingly challenged the thoughts and opinions of those who asked with open hearts.

But the hypocrites and Pharisees? People with power who abused their privilege?

I believe He flipped their tables.

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