Category Archives: Nelson Mandela

Beginning a Week of Book Banning Awareness

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From September 21st through the 27th, the American Libraries Association has

declared this “Banned Books Week.” They wish to encourage our freedom to read.

The ALA’s slogan for this week is, “Discover What You’re Missing.” I think it is so

important to remind people of how recently we had books destroyed, censored

and banned in our country.

In my opinion, books on any subject are meant to expand our world views. They

open our eyes where we may hold insulated views. Some have been protected,

kept safe and ‘closed off,’ from what is being presented in their community or

‘tribe’ (or family.)There are some who home school, some who don’t believe

in public news, some who wish that all offensive subjects not be mentioned to

or around their children. I respect their freedom to do so and they have valid

concerns. But they must also be careful for ‘what they wish for.’ After having

a protected Catholic roommate my sophomore year in college go, ‘haywire,’

with her sudden freedom. Also, knowing a relative who sent her 3 daughters to

a Christian college, only to have one get married to a Catholic, a Jewish man

and another to live with a man out of wedlock, I think one must be careful

about what kind of life you are presenting to your children and family.

By the way, just so you don’t misunderstand, I felt all three of these choices

were find and acceptable choices. It is just the fact the parents had tried to

prevent this ‘kind of thing,’ from happening, that I mention it at all.

Creating awareness of censorship and banning books may seem ‘foreign’ to

ones in their twenties who may live in a city where this has not recently

happened. Historically, it is no so far in the distant past, as one may think. It

is also part of many cultures’ and countries’ current practices. Awareness of

the dangers in such behavior, burning books, taking black markers and

removing words, opinions, and whole passages of different perspectives is

so important for everyone to recognize.

The definition of ‘ban’ that applies to this practice is defined as to prohibit

especially by legal means or social pressure some form of information.

Censure or condemning through public opinion.

The definition of ‘censor’ is to examine in order to suppress or delete

harmful or dangerous material.

The major problem in both banning and censoring is “Who is doing this?”

Who has the authority to choose what we are able to read, write or talk

about?

The subjects of McCarthyism, Apartheid, Racial Issues and Governmental

Control are the ones that “leap to mind’ and produce a cold hand upon my

heart.

Do I think the military servicemen should have had their letters censored,

for fear of accidentally getting into the hands of our enemies? I would not

wish to make a decision that might cause death or infiltration of the enemy

in times of war.

Do I think that some subjects are ‘gross’ and upsetting to my mind? Yes,

but again, I would not wish to impose my thoughts upon others. I don’t

feel this would be fair or just behavior.

While teaching my first year of middle school, in 1979, I was in a small

town where the principal and the superintendent were from cities. They

said it was important to not feel that parents should dictate how their

students be taught. They made me feel comfortable about approaching

them with topics. Sixth grade Language Arts, along with English, Spelling

and Current Events were part of my instruction responsibilities. We had

team teaching, where the students moved from classroom to classroom.

Once I found out I was expecting my second child (my first miscarriage

had been the year before) I asked when it would be appropriate to tell

the students. We were going to be riding in a bus, in the winter months

to a swimming pool, I would be helping the kids to learn floating and

Life Saving techniques. I would be wearing a maternity bathing suit by

then. They suggested telling the parents in November and I listened to

their more experienced advice. We also were having Sex Ed discussions

in the Science classes. I was a little embarrassed as students would see

my belly expanding, but it turned out they loved getting in a line after

lunch in December to feel the baby move. Then, I would have them put

their heads down, as they rested and listened to the chapter book, “The

Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

What books do I think of that have been banned? Without referring to

a list, I imagined “Clockwork Orange,” from my high school readings.

I pictured and remembered that the word, ‘nigger,’ was considered very

controversial and some schools and libraries during the Civil Rights

Movement, mistakenly removed the book, “Huckleberry Finn,” from

their book shelves. The third immediate ‘banned’ book I could think of,

was “The Scarlet Letter.”

Why ban “Clockwork Orange?” Graphic language,  the governmental

control and the futuristic idea of mind control over a criminal. The main

character is injected, I believe if my memory serves me well, with something

that causes him to have pictures of violence and he suffers excruciating pain

from this. Why should we accept this book and not ban it? This is an intriguing

start to a whole new genre of books, which opened our minds to possibilities

and also, made us aware of the dangers of choosing how a criminal should be

punished. Do we have the right to do this? It can also be argued, do we have

the right to kill a man because he killed or committed dangerous acts. Our

legal world, with a ‘jury of our peers,’ makes those kind of powerful judgments.

Why ban “Huckleberry Finn?” I think fear of repercussions and misunderstandings

during a very dangerous, emotional period of our times. We can look at this

rationally, knowing the language was supposed to depict what was acceptable

during Mark Twain’s time. Why accept the book? Because it is an outstanding

story that does cross racial barriers and shows a black man and a young boy in

a fantastic piece of American literature. Their unique friendship and reliance

on each other shows a trust unexpected between two such characters, prior

to Mark Twain’s writing this book.

Why would “The Scarlet Letter,” which has a 19th century woman wearing a

red “A” across her chest be considered censorable? I think some would say

go ahead and promote this book. It holds their own judgments of the situation

on adultery. I am not sure if it is on the banned books list, which I had decided

when I set out to write this, that I would not ‘peek’ at the list until I finished my

opinions or had a chance to ‘editorialize.’ I think it may have been on the list

but would take it off, due to my determination that usually the WOMAN is

given the scarlet letter, not the man who was part of the couple engaged in

adultery. This is an antiquated viewpoint, but sadly this is still held in some

form or other, which is not the time nor place to talk about why this still goes

on.

 

The Office of Intellectual Freedom gets reports and complaints. They usually

get the most “challenges” to freedom from the public wishing to ban books

after the Top 10 Book List is published.

Here are the Top 5 out of a list of Top 10 the OIF received after the 2013 Top Ten

List was published:

1. “Captain Underpants,” by Dav Pilkey.

The complaints were: Offensive language and unsuitable for age group.

2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

The complaints were: Offensive language, sexually explicit, violence and unsuitable for age group.

3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ,” by Sherman Alexie.

The complaints were: Drugs, alcohol, smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James.

The complaints were: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoints, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins.

The complaints were: Religious viewpoints and unsuitable for age group.

Hmm…I would have added violence possibly.

Overall, there are large numbers given on the official website of the Office of Intellectual Freedom

of the population that wish to restrict our reading materials.

 

 

The funny thing that someone in my life mentioned about censorship, I am

not quite sure who, but he asked this thought-provoking question:

What book has many adult themes within its pages, including adultery,

fornication and murdering one’s family members, but is considered

‘acceptable’ by those who wish to forbid and censor books?

(The Bible, he answered.)

What books came to mind, when I first started this post, that may be on past

banned books lists?

 

Nelson Mandela’s quotation seems apropos:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,

but to live in a way that respects and enhances

the freedom of others.”

 

Words from a Mother

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This quotation is attributed to Mother Teresa. I am in

awe of her powerful messages to us all. She was such a

Gift from God, no one real person comes to mind, who

could equate to all she accomplished. She was a fiery

Super Woman!

That tiny-framed woman took a lot on her shoulders,

did not bend, did not complain nor flinch from the

afflictions that she touched with her bare hands.

We could all take lessons from her, on Love, Humility,

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk. This along with

giving us a true role model. What Would Mother Teresa Do?

Emulate and reflect God’s loving embrace of all people.

I am posting my Sincere Sunday post today, a day early

since I may have grandkids for a whole 24 hours and may

not make it to the library at all on February 16, 2014!

A quick summary of Mother Teresa’s life will reveal

simple, humble beginnings. She was born on August 26, 1910

in the Republic of Macedonia. Considered an Albanian at

birth, she lived a godly life.

After attending school, she chose to, at age eighteen,

study for one solitary year at the Lareto Abbey. She

became a Religious Sister of the Roman Catholic faith.

When Mother Teresa died in Calcutta, India she had

served, touched and blessed thousands of needy, sick

and dying people. There is no exaggeration in that

number; possibly not nearly high enough of an estimate.

Her long life was dedicated to her beliefs, ending at

the age of 87, on September 5, 1997.

I think that it is a testament to her life, when you

see at the bottom of her biography, on the computer

that sends you to research others of her kind the

following names:

Mahatma Gandhi

Indira Gandhi

Nelson Mandela

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Princess Diana

Helen Keller…

Here is the quotation for this Sunday:

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is bliss, taste it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.”

Mother Teresa (Date Unknown)

I have no better words to live by.

Leaps of Faith

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Are you hanging onto something (job, friend, partner, possessions…

fill in the blank) too tightly, like a security blanket? There are several

people who have taught me how to “let go” recently! If you are “stuck

in a rut” or just “spinning your wheels” and stalled out, here is a word

of encouragement. I have some fine examples of people, some who

happen to be my friends, who have kick-started their lives. These

include life-changing experiences with very motivating stories!

The first one, who always comes to mind, is Mike Lince, who along with

his wife, Florence, sold their homes, cars, and possessions to become

world travelers.

Here is his blog name, “Applecore” and his site to read and get excited

about transitions and new adventures!

http://globalexplorerclub.wordpress.com

Another person, a dear friend since 1994 or so, Carla, also sold her

car and possessions, let her ex-husband take over their home and

moved out to California from Ohio! I am always pleased to see how

well she has been adapting out there in Sacramento, having followed

her only son, Nick. He just graduated in 2013 and got a great job in a

labratory of a major international company. They have found an OSU

alumni public place that shows the gameS. This new “hang out” allows

for them to enjoy food, drinks and camaraderie with other Ohio

transplants! Also, they recently saw the bulls run down the roads in

Sacramento like they do in Spain! There is a great deal of history, art

and exciting activities, Carla has discovered to enjoy and learn more

about their new “home.”

My good male friend who I have always left “unnamed” since he has a

rather torrid and emotional past, along with a woman who possesses

him, told me a shocking revelation! (If you want the back story, look

up “She Put a Price Tag on Their Love.”) This man thinks he may break

the ‘bondage’ that he feels he is obligated and owes her more than

he could afford to repay her, I can hear the strains of Journey’s song,

“Separate Ways” and the repeated words: “Go! GO!”  There is a line in

that particular song that says to “break the chains that bind you!” He is

thinking of moving to North Carolina! I was amazed, since he has some

siblings here in Ohio and he has his three daughters in California. If he

were to move to a warmer climate, I would have definitely expected

him to head West; not South!

I asked him, did you learn your lesson? It is a crime to “rob” your heart

and soul! I would hope he would not be back for more… if so, he would

be like a “recidivist” in my mind! He needs to take control of his life

and not be used. I would definitely say this to a woman, tread carefully

with this man, though. I think it is an embarassing part of our friendship

and not sure if he will remain in touch, once the move is completed.

Another woman, who has chosen travel, along with missionary work,

has been in Singapore and Taiwan, teaching English and working for

free. This elderly, but not feeble, woman is a member of my church.

Babs Tull is over eighty years old! I am thankful to read her letters that

are posted in our church bulletin.

This is something I want to add, “you are never to old to learn or try

something new!” I was very pleased when several years ago, I found

out there was an elderly woman who wrote a book past her eightieth

birthday. I was in a book club and the book featured for the month was,

“And Ladies of the Club.” It was set in Ohio and the author was Helen

Hooven Santmyer.

I could go on endlessly with famous people who have been inspiring due

to their courage to make a difference and take a stand. Ghandi, Mother

Theresa and Nelson Mandela, come to mind. Awesome individuals who

did not let their age define them!

We are all striving in our blogs to join in a community of writers, some of

us wish to publish someday. I am sure you have read of many rejection

letters that famous writers have received. Many of their stories are well

known and very motivating.

My last example of life changing experiences, is taken from a wonderful

and inspiring movie, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” It is a fictional but

realistically depicted movie with the characters’ roles well played by Ewan

Mc Gregor, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Blunt. The sheik who funds

this monumental project is played by Amr Waked. This fascinating plot

is very emotional, too. Why list this movie? The two characters are so

very different from the beginning of the movie in their depictions and

the way their lives are led to the ending of the tale, where their lives

have transformed. There is redemption, all kinds of revelations and

the main message I received was: Don’t be afraid to try anything!

Please feel free, if you have ever restarted your life, relocated to a

whole different locale, rekindled a flame, or changed careers to let

us in on your decision! Let us know what hurdles you surpassed

and include us in your life changing actions!

My final message to you as I finish this post is: Don’t cling to nor hang

on to ANYTHING that is not bringing you to a place of Grace, Peace,

Enlightenment or (filling your cup with overflowing) Bliss!