(Mark Comerford has worked with training journalists and building networks for almost 20 years. As a lecturer at several Swedish universities, an associate at the Journalism Leaders program in the UK and an independent consultant to media internationally he has been at the forefront of the changes digitalization is bringing about in the communications and media fields.)
Freedom of ……….
The struggle for freedom of expression is as ancient as the history of censorship.
Personally, I am all for freedom of expression and I believe that the most vehement opposition to freedom to expression comes from those whose ideology cannot stand the test of reason.
I strongly believe in freedom of speech. It is important for people to stand up for what they believe.
I realized when I was in Sweden that in an open society everybody is allowed to say what they think and everyone has the open-mindedness to listen to others’ points of view, even if they do not always agree. There are no limits to freedom of speech and free expression within an open society.
There are no censorship, and no limits to freedom of expression and thoughts. Such freedom should come more and more naturally to future generations so that a vital culture of thoughts and expressions develops.
On the other hand, the vilest enemies of freedom of speech are countries where there are no wars or conflicts but authoritarian and dictatorial regimes.
I have to remind myself that there were a lot of reasons that drove me to apply in the first place for the young leaders visiting program (YLVP).
The YLVP is an intense and challenging program designed by The Swedish Institute to give Young leaders the tools to shape public opinion in cutting-edge media while strengthening their intercultural and leadership skills.
The first phase of the program took place in Stockholm.
One of the reasons in my context is a closed mentality that is brought about due to a huge deficit in democracy and human rights.
Music will not be silenced
To celebrate the freedom of expression, we need to celebrate the freedom of musical expression too.
People need to recognize the power and ability of music to change the world. Without this ability, without the musicians, the singers, the poets, the artists, the writers and most importantly, the listeners and the readers, we would not be as aware of the world around us.
Imagine the world without music. Or imagine a world where we are told what to play, what to sing and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our own homes. That world already exists. In more countries that you might imagine, musicians and composers are under threat. And that threat is growing.
The role of social media
People nowadays are starting to say that social media is going to change the world; nothing could be farther from the truth.
Yes, for most of us, social media has changed our lives in some meaningful way, but social media can’t change the world, people do through social media, it’s a tool.
Nothing in this world is going to change unless we make it change. The responsibility for change does not fall onto technology but onto people. We can have all the greatest tools and gadgets in the world but if we don’t use them for change then guess what, change isn’t going to happen.
Let’s remember that social media and technology gives us the ability to make changes happen, but it’s ultimately up to us to use these abilities to make change happen.