Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banning Books = Fear

Growing up, I went to a religious school.  At graduation, the priest giving the commencement address said that we should always question our faith.  Because if we do so and it causes us to lose our faith, then our faith wasn’t strong enough to begin with.  And if we do so and we do not lose our faith, then it only makes our faith that much stronger.

At the time, this idea blew my mind.  It’s not that I’d always been told to blindly accept various things in life, but it’s the first time I remember someone in such an official capacity not just telling us that it’s okay to question and doubt, but that it’s a good thing.

Since then, this fundamental idea has formed a core part of my identity.  You do not convince people to your position on a matter by withholding the possibility of other options.  You do so by facing challenges against your position head on.  You need to lay out all the arguments — both the good and the bad — and explain why the bad shouldn’t matter.

Knowledge is power.  Information is power.  And the easiest way to control a population is to limit its access to information.  To take away their ability to form any opinion other than the one you want them to.  Which is why book banning is so problematic.

Books are how we create communities.  They are how we step outside of our own identities and into those of others — they’re how we learn empathy.  The only reason to ban a book is fear.  Fear that once a book opens someone’s eyes, you will not be able to force them closed again.

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