Writers & Readers ~ “Dare to be Courageous!”

Image by Nicolò Paternoster via Flickr

Banned Books Week 2010

This week is Banned Books week 2010. This is a week where as readers and writers we get to celebrate the Freedom to read and write what we want – irregardless of censors.

The Definition of Censor ~ Merrium-Webster Dictionary

: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable <censor the news>; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable

All over Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and many more countless social networking sites there are write-ups this week on Banned Books Week 2010.

This year this is the list of top 10 banned books:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

I have read 4 of these books. “To kill a Mockingbird”, “Catcher in the Rye”, “My Sister’s Keeper”, “The Colour Purple”. I plan on reading the other 6 on this list as well. In fact they are going to the top of my “To Be Read” list.

Another book which has created a lot of online controversy and conversation this week is: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I have not read this book but again this is going to go to my “To Be Read” List.

The one thing that binds these books together is the courage to not just seek truth but the bolder courage to write the truth. It takes courage to dare to question the “acceptable” topics for discussion. It takes courage to brave the difficult questions and even more courage to encourage questioning the difficult subjects. It takes courage to go against the crowd and be an individual. All of these writers and all of these books accomplish just this.

So instead of the censors’ original intentions of making these writers pariahs in our society and making their books and words taboo, they have succeeded in the complete opposite. They have made these writers heroes and heroines. They have made their words and their books vital to individuality and to freedom. This label of being a “Banned Book” is in fact, and in spite of the censors, a Badge of Honour.

In fact now one of my goals as a writer is to make it onto a future Banned Books List. The reason I write is to seek out the truth, deal with issues and make people question the way they think, act, speak. To utilise an old adage: The pen is INDEED mightier than the sword. Words have the rare ability to enter our consciousness and to mould our beliefs and our principles. Words used incorrectly have a far greater power to wound than the sword. Words used correctly and courageously have the power to heal and halt the actions of the sword.

Most writers write because they cannot not write. There is a burning need and passion within that urges them to write. Often both prose and poetry are built on the foundations of our own experiences or come about as a result of a need to grapple issues and conflicts.

So many world events in histories have been upended by and through writers. Writers are indeed the unseen soldiers in the universal fight for freedom. It is an age-old battle that is recorded in every culture and every country. Every time some official has tried to censor these writers, these “Truth Seekers”, it has only highlighted the courage and the boldness of the censored words. In the words of another famous author who stirred up controversy:

“Knowledge is power” ~ Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

The first use of Censorship was in 1591. The writing in question was Mother Hubbard’s Tale. This was a tale that was told to portray the injustices, which included the persecution of poets and scholars, by Queen Elizabeth’s I Lord Treasurer, William Cecil, Lord Burghley. That was the first recorded use of censorship. Interestingly this tale was censored because it depicted the persecution of “poets and scholars” amongst other injustices.

So as you can see, censorship is not a new concept. it has been around for centuries. However, we have the power to outweigh and overshadow censorship. This power is contained within the words we write and the stories we tell. Story telling is even older than censorship and will always be stronger than censorship.

I applaud the writers whose courage in writing and telling truths, to dare to be different and dare to battle supposed taboo subjects, have put them on the Banned Books List. May we all dare to be so courageous and to write even though our writing may cause controversy. May we dare to write The Truth. May we dare to give those who read our words the Power of Knowledge and the Freedom to Choose.

What books on Banned Books Lists have you read? What books will you read? The written words are more powerful when they are read and repeated. Let us persist in reading and choosing what we want to read without being censored.

Dare to be courageous.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.