Over the last while I have encountered in myself and others a serious need to be frankly honest in conducting business. Being candorous or transparent when transacting or plainly conversing allows for and usually leads to a greater understanding of what is really at stake, whether it be money, power, performance, possessions, feelings, honesty, or relationships. Like others, I, too, often resort to what a prominent authority on the subject calls ruinous empathy or apathy when dealing with issues involving others. This is where we avoid expressing our concerns because we want to spare the other party’s emotions out of some misplaced desire to be nice. Thankfully, my wife and I usually don’t resort to avoidance in order to get results. That doesn’t mean that we, then, take licence in being aggressive, gleeful or obnoxious in the rush to generate constructive criticism. It is that ‘nuclear’, bullheaded approach that, too often, sadly blows up any attempt to reach an amicable understanding. Just the other day, I had my weekly chat with my close friend, Harold, who is an avid Trump supporter and a staunch free-speech advocate. This time, I decided to dispatch with the pleasantries and wade in on a controversial subject apropos of what is current happening in the news: hate speech versus free speech. Obviously, Harold sees both as one and the same while I don’t, so why even discuss it? After all, we are entitled to our respected views, especially if we disagree. But this time was different: I needed to hear him explain why neo-nazis and white supremacists should be allowed to openly preach hatred against Jews and visible minorities. Yes, I know it is, for the large part, all part of that greater political theater called the public square open to all and sundry. In the course of twenty minutes, I dropped the question and Harold immediately responded by sharing what was on his mind without once resorting to that frightfully overused Goldwater quotation of “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. . .” His main point was that once we allow big government and the liberal media to muzzle what individuals and groups can say, we are left with a regimen of politically correct ideas that mainly represents the godless values of the Left. To avoid slipping on that slippery slope, Harold would rather allow crazies like the fringe right and left to have their say, regardless how venomous and hurtful their thoughts might be. When it came my turn, I explained that the time had come for middle-class stiffs like me to stand up to extremism in whatever form it took, and that was how I wanted to use my freedom to publicly speak within reason. As for those who advocate political violence, they have crossed the proverbial line of decency and respect and need to be held accountable for their actions. Isn’t that why we have prosecution of hate crimes included in the Canadian criminal code. Back to Harold. That candorous moment when I decided to flush out his inner thoughts on a thorny subject will not likely damage our friendship because we are learning to open up on matters of the ‘heart’. I know there is so much more we agree on than disagree, but it is very reassuring that we can ‘radically’ disagree in a civilized manner.