So today I somehow found myself online reading about dozens of different books that have been banned from schools and even entire countries in the last hundred years. When I first stumbled upon a list of them I was barely phased by any of the titles present. After continuing down the list and reading the reasons behind each ban, however, I was met with complete and utter shock upon seeing various familiar titles on the list, many of which were children’s books.
In the last hundred years the world has banned dozens upon dozens of books ranging from Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss to Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Growing up I remember hearing about certain books that were banned in schools, but never did it occur to me how common it was during the twentieth century or even how far a ban could reach. Books that I know and love now were once taken and disposed of in some instances because the beliefs of the author did not align with the beliefs of a school system or government. Authors were deemed heretical and their books unfit for general consumption.
It boggles my mind that up until now I never really considered the scope of what it means to ban a book; to take (in my mind) a crafted piece of art and hide it from the world. No matter the author or the contents of a book, it is still something that someone created, be it good or bad. While the information it may contain could be unpleasant to certain minds, it is still something that we must value for what it is: the physical representation of thought.
Many would argue that books like Mein Kampf are things that should be obliterated on the sole basis of the atrocities that came from its author, but I wholeheartedly disagree with this notion. Every book is a work of art and every author is an artist of sorts. A book may represent everything we are opposed to, but we cannot ignore the value attached to it; it is a source of information and means by which we can learn about ourselves and the world around us.
One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the ability to learn things that other species cannot. To stand in the way of the learning process is to place an unwarranted limitation on those who have a thirst for knowledge or to outright declare that one train of thought is superior to another. What right does a government or institution have to declare that one way of thinking is correct? Furthermore, shouldn’t we find value in all forms of knowledge no matter the source or content?
This world prides itself on advancement, yet here we are still upholding bans in some places because we have differing views on the same topics. This makes absolutely no sense to me, not only as a writer, but to me as an intellectual free thinking person. How do we expect to create a better world if our minds are so narrow that we cannot find the value in a book, no matter its contents? How do we expect to advance if we are so quick to close our minds to the possibility that everything has a purpose? That we can learn something if only we are willing?
Just a few of my thoughts for today. I welcome your comments and would like to know what you think on the matter. It’s always nice to have more than one perspective on an issue. I also want to make it clear that I am in no way saying that Hitler’s train of thought was correct. I am simply stating that everything has a purpose and we can learn something if we are willing to.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry
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