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Freedom to Speak

This week is a very sad anniversary in China. Thirty years ago, in Peking, China many students were killed. The students were in university. They were in a place called Tiananmen Square. Thousands and thousands of students were not happy with China. They were not happy with the government and they wanted to make some change. The students loved their country. They loved China. They wanted to make China better for all Chinese people, and to have more freedom to talk, freedom to not agree, freedom to express their ideas, and freedom to choose the people in government.

But on June 4th, in 1989 the army attacked the students. So many were killed. It was a terrible time for those students. In 1990 I was an English teacher in China and I have some very good friends who were in Peking at that time. They talk about how scary it was. I could not believe their stories when I heard them.

There are many countries that control their people. North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Yemen, and Cuba are not places where you can speak freely. You cannot say what you think. You cannot say, “this government is no good”. If you do so, you will get in big trouble. In North Korea, for example, you may be killed if you speak against the leader.

You are Japanese and I am Canadian. We come from two of the most free countries in the world. We can live free. We can speak freely. We can make friends with anyone we like. We can go anywhere we like. We can go to a church, or not go to a church. We can have a job or a business and do things we like. We are not afraid of our police. The police help us and they support our community. Policemen and policewomen are our friends and members of our society.

The army is used to help people. If there is a typhoon or an earthquake the Japanese army goes to help those people who need help. The army does not hurt ordinary people. The army does not take things from your house. The army is not scary. They are men and women in a free society. They help society. The support the country.

In countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam, the army and the police are very dangerous to ordinary people. The country is not safe, and the people cannot speak freely. The police and the army are used to control the people and to stop free speaking. It is a terrible, terrible thing, and I am very glad to live in a free country like Japan, and to know my home country of Canada is also a place for freedom too.

But because we are free we have an important job to do. It is good that we enjoy freedom. It is good that we can speak freely. But we also must think how we can protect and guard our freedom. We must think about how to keep a society free. We must think about democracy. We must think about how we can help each other, and also to help other places too, so they can have a free community too.

The first thing we must do is to read and understand history. We must know about our countries and about other countries. The second thing is that we must support good government and not support bad government. We do not want to live like Yemen, Syria, North Korea, or Uzbekistan. We need to keep our homes and communities free. Please read more of your history, understand government, and do not be shy with your own voice of freedom.