Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Navigating Differences: Celebrating Free Speech and Embracing Diverse Perspectives

Written by: on February 8, 2024

It’s time to bring back the old adage “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

-Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott-

Two delicate matters cannot be handled carelessly in our country: first, politics, particularly the election of the President and Vice President. Second, religion. However, it is more harmful if the two are combined. In a few days, our country will pick a President and Vice President to govern it for the next five years. However, disagreements among supporters have persisted for months. Tensions emerge due to differing choices for the candidates each individual loves and dislikes. Almost every day, numerous WhatsApp groups are loaded with news videos from the mass media, including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, containing support for politicians they favor or, conversely, negative information about candidates they dislike. I am intending to write about tensions due to differences in political choices in this post. But to be honest, I repeatedly write-delete-write, and so on because there is a worry that if I write without a strict filter it will be considered offensive to certain parties, which could put me in a “some situations”.


The tension of this year’s election is extraordinary. I wanted to write about it here, but in the end, I decided not to tell the details in this post (you can search for it on the internet). But I can feel what Lukianoff and Schlott wrote in this book, especially regarding Cancel Culture. Lukianoff and Schlott explain that Cancel Culture “should be understood not as an isolated phenomenon but rather as part of an embrace of cheap argument tactics that rely on ad hominem arguments, which are attacks on a person rather than the point they are making. More precisely, Cancel Culture allows people to dismiss their ideological opponents without refuting their arguments, while also intimidating anyone who might make that same point.”[1] Cancel Culture is so dangerous and destructive to social life. Lukianoff and Schlott stated that culture had destructive power. Cancel Culture has changed lives, ruined careers, crippled businesses, slowed the generation of knowledge, destroyed trust in institutions, and thrown us into an ever-worsening culture war. We should see it as part of the dysfunctional behavior that individuals in our society engage in to fight and compete for power, position, and dominance.[2]


The emergence of Cancel Culture has had the impact of hampering freedom of expression, silencing opposing points of view, and fostering an environment of fear and self-censorship. Cancel Culture, empowered by social media platforms and a more politicized society has stifled intellectual conversation and opened up the exchange of ideas. Cancel culture ultimately undermines the norms of free discourse, critical thinking, and intellectual development.[3] Realizing how destructive Cancel Culture is, Lukianoff and Schlott champion the idea of fighting Cancel Culture and promoting cognitive maturity which they call the Adulthood American mind. Adulthood is needed to build civilization. They explained, “If we want a society that can build up, rather than just tear down, institutions, people, and ideas, we must promote a way of arguing that rejects childishness and helps the best ideas to rise.”[4]


Lukianoff and Schlott intend to bring back full maturity in the social system of society which dares to express opinions and accepts differences of opinion. They explain, “The American mind’s adulthood is a cultural state in which we do not avoid unpleasant talks, do not hide embarrassing information, and do not sugarcoat harsh realities. It is a location where we are trusted to reach the proper conclusion without being rescued from ourselves. It entails adopting a firm stance and admitting that knowing the world for what it is preferable to be fed cozy lies by authority.”[5] Lukianoff dan Scholtt invites readers, of course American citizens, to “Re-embracing Free Speech Culture requires a return to our old folk wisdom —”to each his own,” “everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” “never judge a book by its cover,” “attack the argument, not the person,” and “always take seriously the possibility you might be wrong.”[6]


Lukianoff and Scholtt offer an alternative solution that is quite interesting in my opinion, namely raising the anti-canceler generation. There are five stages in it, namely: 1. Revive the golden rule: Young people should be reminded of the age-old adage: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you; 2. Encourage free, unstructured time: letting go wisely is critical to making kids resilient and antifragile—and therefore key to raising an anti-canceler; 3. Emphasize the importance of friendships: parents have to teach their children the importance of being a true friend and maintaining genuine connections 4. Teach kids about differences: Preparing young people for diverse reality and fostering a mutual appreciation for the importance of being tolerant of ideological differences is critical to their future success in navigating interpersonal relationships and disagreements; 5. Practice what you preach: The best thing parents can do to counter the cancel culture’s influences is to lead by example and practice what we preach—whether that’s in public or at the family dinner table.[7]


I strongly appreciate Lukianoff and Scholtt’s vision of restoring freedom of opinion and having the guts to embrace differing viewpoints while adhering to the principles of mature and responsible argumentation and discussion. Differing opinions must not be inhibited, excluded, or persecuted. However, there are indicators of differing social standards in the Indonesian setting compared to the American context. However, in my context, freedom of thought appears to have gone too far, since many people utilize ad hominem arguments in debate. Meanwhile, many people are concerned about being hunted and prosecuted without due process if their beliefs are perceived as disagreeable by certain parties. But above all that I then remembered a Bible verse that says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5.37. RSV)

[1] Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott, The Canceling of the American Mind, (New York NY: Simon & Schuster, 2023), 30.

[2] Ibid, 9.

[3] Ibid 295-296.

[4] Ibid, 305.

[5] Ibid, 306.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 219-231.

About the Author


Dinka Utomo

Dinka Nehemia Utomo is an ordained pastor of the Protestant Church in the Western part of Indonesia (Gereja Protestan di Indonesia bagian Barat or GPIB). He has served for more than 15 years. The first five years of his ministry were in the remote area of East Kalimantan, including people from the indigenous Dayak tribe in the small villages in the middle of the forest, frequently reached using small boats down the river. For more than 15 years, Dinka has served several GPIB congregations in several cities in Indonesia. He has always had a passion for equipping Christian families, teaching and guiding them to build equal relations between husband and wife, maintaining commitment, love, and loyalty, creating a healthy and constructive Christian family atmosphere, and rejecting all forms of violence and sexual violence. Dinka's beloved wife, Verra, is also a GPIB pastor. They have two blessed children. Dinka and his wife and children love to spend quality family time, such as lunch or dinner, and vacation to exotic places.

9 responses to “Navigating Differences: Celebrating Free Speech and Embracing Diverse Perspectives”

  1. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi Dinka,
    Nice blogpost.
    I was thinking about something the bible said.
    Proverbs 11:13 (NIV): “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”

    Proverbs 16:28 (NIV): “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”

    Proverbs 18:8 (NIV): “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”

    Proverbs 20:19 (NIV): “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.”

    Social Media has given everyone a tongue.
    James 3:5-6 (NIV): “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

    Gossip and Meanness…perhaps cancelling is not new, but it is on steroids injected by social media.


    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Russel!

      I resonate with your opinion. Yes, social media greatly impacts our social relationships, including in Christian society.

      Therefore, we must be able to filter everything on social media and analyze it carefully so that we are not easily provoked by what is reported there.

  2. Esther Edwards says:

    Oh my! I know being a leader in a hostile political climate can be challenging. May the Lord give you great wisdom as you navigate it with your congregation.
    You mentioned that “Lukianoff and Schlott intend to bring back full maturity in the social system of society which dares to express opinions and accepts differences of opinion.” In your situation, how can you lead your people in responding with greater maturity to the very real tensions that exist in your country right now?

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Esther!

      Excellent question.
      I often advise congregation members to be able to filter everything on social media and analyze it carefully so that they are not easily provoked by what is reported there. Then I also reminded you of the importance of thinking a thousand times before writing anything on social media.
      Moreover, I motivate them to ask God’s wisdom in their behavior and actions.

  3. mm Tim Clark says:

    Dinka, I love how you bring this back to your own context. There are differences in how Americans and Indonesians approach this. But in the end, human nature allows that everyone has challenges regarding this idea. I’m always encouraged by your unique perspective and your insightful analysis of our reading. Thanks!

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Tim! Thanks for your comment.

      This, I believe, is one of the benefits of the doctorate in leadership of global perspectives program.
      We may enhance one other’s viewpoints and increase our horizons, so strengthening our analytical and thinking skills.
      Although many of our books are deep and heavy, I still love reading them. However, all of this provided me with a fresh perspective and inspired me to apply it to the situation at hand.

  4. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Dinka,
    I will be praying for your elections. I understand that election day can be an uncertain and fearful time. I hadn’t considered how social media might have impacted the elections in your country. So different from my time when young people rallied in the streets. Thank you for highlighting that in other countries around the world, “many people are concerned about being hunted and prosecuted without due process if their beliefs are perceived as disagreeable by certain parties.”

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Jenny!
      Thanks for your prayer. I appreciate it.

      Elections are essentially a democratic party process. However, if the bulk of society and even authorities are not yet mature and ready to cope with disagreements, much alone accept defeat, the election does not feel like a cheerful celebration. What occurs is the inverse: worry, dread, hatred, fury, and so forth.
      However, in my country, it appears that the path to political maturity is becoming more open, even though there are still numerous challenges. Hopefully.

  5. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5.37. RSV)

    Dinka, thank you for sharing your culture with us and giving me a different perspective on the same issues! Argh! I love the verse you chose. I have been working on my yes being yes and my no being no! No wishy washy, no “we’ll see”. Thank you for sharing Dinka!

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