freedom and human rights

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

In neoliberal political circles, a lot of lip service is given to the merits of freedom. Political freedoms, religious freedoms,  social freedoms - much is made of the joy of being able to do as one pleases. Acting in alignment with one's inner beliefs is a privilege denied to much of the globe, and it is as highly craved as it is valued.

However, contrary to neoliberal rhetoric, such freedoms aren't rights - they're earned. And in fact, they are earned not by the individual, but instead by the communities in which they exist. The freedom to act as one pleases, when placed in context, is essentially the freedom to express dissent. This dissent must be honored and protected by the community in order for freedoms to survive.

The exercise of freedom is dependent on an individual's right to take up physical and mental space in a society. When an individual is in a state of conflict with the norms of that society, however, exercising freedom can represent a challenge to the freedoms of others. At its worst, society disintegrates into a no-man's-land or 1984-style surveillance state when people are no longer able to respectfully disagree.

Members of a society do not choose to be marginalized - they land in their place in society through simple accidents of birth or misfortune. Dissent arises in a society in response to injustices that go unaddressed and unrectified, as well as personal lusts and desires. As a result, principled dissent represents a call to society for an expanded commitment to higher values, to the health and wellness of the community.

When the marginalized are honored and dissent protected, human rights become realities. The right to work as you please, support what you please and act according to your beliefs are essential to a good life. These freedoms are earned through constant self-examination and the willingness to address trauma, process emotional wounds and understand each other's differences. 

Grey Priestess Press is passionate about the importance of taking the time to explore differences and come to places of mutual understanding or compromise. We dream of a society in which dissent is addressed openly, sensitively and respectfully. A society in which the marginalized and alienated are treated like equals. We work towards this vision by publishing work that expands the mind, leading people to a new understanding of each other. Through this, we create healing for society.