A dangerous book will always be in danger from those it threatens with the demand that they question their assumptions. They’d rather hang on to the assumptions and ban the book.”― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader and the Imagination
Having the freedom to listen to stories that are not (yet) accepted socially, that aren’t in line with my country’s political system or culture, that aren’t in line with my own moral obligations, allows me to really think about what our options are or could be especially in the time of crisis. It gives me more perspectives. Gives more power to my choices. I can respectfully disagree and then show the world why through my writing.
I’d like to start by sharing a piece of my life. I’ve been blessed to live on both sides of the coin. I have both been deprived of literature and shown what it’s like to have the freedom to read what feels like an unlimited amount of books. The freedom was and is so exciting for me. I was brought up in a Christian home and attended a private Christian school so I did not have the freedom to read anything and everything I wanted. It always felt like something was missing in my life. Thankfully, we had Charlette’s Web and a few X-men comics which lit up my whole brain. We had more books but they were all Christian based. And let me be clear, I’m grateful I was raised learning the stories in the bible. I think they are rich in symbolism, thought provoking, and gave me a firm foundation for the writer I’ve become today. But there truly is freedom in reading things outside of my own beliefs and culture. Esoteric reads, Rimbaud, Plath, journal articles all light my fire and were not accessible to me until college. They all pique my curiosity, push me to keep learning and connecting with others who share my curiosity.
THE MIND THAT OPENS TO A NEW IDEA NEVER RETURNS TO ITS ORIGINAL SIZE.Albert Einstein
If I had access as a youth to more literature that opposed my beliefs, I could have said, I’ve read the literature for these other religions and I still choose Christianity. I feel it gives my choice more weight because I made the choice on my own among all the other options. I also feel it would have made me more understanding to those who hold different religious beliefs.
Today, I know how important is to hear stories from all over the world. It is vital to expanding our minds and stepping into new perspectives. I don’t believe in banned books. I think we should have access to them all. “Won’t it overwhelm us?” some might ask. This is a perfectly logical question. Especially with this being the information age, it can feel like we’re drowning in answers. I must say, as conscious writers, we don’t have to drown ourselves in information. We can gather resources and execute at our own pace. We can get through one piece of literature at a time.
This like any other freedom comes down to you. It requires, setting aside time to not only read but search for literature, art, and music that is outside of your norm that you can critically think about. This new you that comes from searching, is your freedom to listen. The choice is always yours.