September 30-October 6, 2012 is Banned Book Week. The title of this post was uttered by Guy Montag in Ray Bradbury’s FAHRENHEIT 451.
Guy Montag is a fireman who burned books because they were illegal in the societal future penned by Bradbury. It is ironic that FAHRENHEIT 451 has found itself on the various lists of banned books.
Suppression of ideas and thoughts has been part of human history since the beginning. There have always been those who believed it was their destiny to conscript their restrictive ideology on the majority.
Of course banning or forbidding or torching books are not limited to certain individuals. Governments, religious organizations, and communities have sought to restrict the reading or dissemination of the printed page for the “good” of their people, especially children and teenagers.
With the advent of the internet the free distribution of ideas and ideologies has been a bit more difficult to control, but restrictions on the internet seem to be growing daily on this planet traversing the cosmos. It would seem the free exercise of exchanging differing viewpoints and philosophies is an endangered species.
The haunting picture below is from the mass Berlin book burning of May 10, 1933 by the young people of the Nationalist German Students Organization. It was orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda.
What was “un-German” was confiscated or donated to be ashes. The night smoke carried into the air the collective wisdom and theories of a thousand-plus individuals. However, smoke will eventually settle back to the earth.
In 2012 we may be bewildered that such an event could happen back there in that time and place. However, that time and place is never more than a page away from the present.
Human nature, contrary to social evolutionists, does not seem to be grasping the enlightenment of an evolving psyche. As you watch the events around you in your community, country and world, fires burn which seek to extinguish any hope of enlightenment to a higher level above the savage beast which lurks in the dark shadows of our nature.
Education was hoped to be a panacea for societal ills. In many cases it has proven to be beneficial and continues to be.
However, education alone cannot solve the basic premise of whom and what we are. Religion has a definition for our human state—fallen nature, separated from “God” by innate sinfulness.
Unfortunately, religion has been the impetus for its adherents to engage in very barbaric acts which would be an affront to any “God” with intellect. At the same time religion has provided in those gifted individuals art, music, literature, science and caring for the suffering masses of humans who just hang on from day to day.
I may have digressed from the premise of this post. This would be true to a limited degree.
Religious works have been blacklisted as well. Today this is even truer as differing religious points of view are debated and argued. Burning the Koran or the Bible in its various iterations or any other religious works is an act of injurious stupidity.
Religion is part of our societies. We don’t have to read or accept the tenets, but we should respect the religious outlets to which people have chosen to belong. Tolerance of belief or non-belief is a fundamental trait of a civilized society.
The same would be true for books and their various iterations. We don’t have to read them or endorse them. We can choose to limit what our children read in our homes and voice our opinions about the items that they are exposed to in their schools.
To be civilized or to be barbaric? The choice is ours to make.
By all means read a good book of your choice. Read to your children daily. Support your local library. Defend the free dissimilation of ideas and philosophies even if they do not agree with your views.
Great civilizations are built by many individuals with diverse beliefs and backgrounds. Tolerance and understanding is a hallmark of a people who embrace the light of enlightenment for the good of the whole society.
G. D. Williams © 2012
To Flames: Lochgarry Posts
BANNED BOOKS WEEK
Banned Books UK
Index of Prohibited Books: Roman Catholic
The Books Have Been Burning
Fifty Shades of Gray
Comic Books & The Seduction of the Innocents