I spend a large portion of my time keeping abreast of many things, from what my kids talk about when they forget I’m around to social media. Lately, within the last year or two, I have seen things that I think are ignorant, ridiculous, and stupid. That last word is one I rarely use because it leaves a bad taste in my mind.
I use the word to describe a deficit of thought, a poorly arrived decision, a bad idea not adequately vented, oftentimes associated with a despicable act. I don’t use it to label an erroneous vision in the creative process, only to discard it as unsuitable. That process is the natural workings of creativity. I reserve the word for a finished thought that is ridiculously off the mark of a well-thought-out idea.
What I refer to is book banning. What makes anyone think that is a good idea? I’m not talking about a parent withholding a book for which they don’t think their child is ready. That’s called parenting, and with that, the parent should use it when the book’s terrain is such that the parent judges their offspring as not quite ready yet. That kind of decision is what parents are supposed to do.
I made such a decision about my own children regarding them reading my books. Some of them are not yet able to understand what I wrote.
The book banning I refer to is when one person or group decides that the information in a book should not come to light, making it inaccessible. Stupid.
This kind of thinking results in poorly informed humans. I guess the purpose of it is to fashion carbon copies of themselves. Mental clones. Stupid. It can’t be from their desire to limit exposure to four-letter-words. Anyone can see those words in almost any public restroom, complete with pictures.
It is not words that the book banners want to limit, it is ideas.
Limit ideas? I can’t think of a better way to stunt anyone’s personal growth.
When I was about eight years old, we lived next to our church, and since my dad was the pastor and we lived in the parsonage, the old janitor took care of our lawn along with the church. We don’t describe people with the label janitor or old anymore, but we did. No one can change that.
I remember talking to the janitor Lyle as he took his little mat and laid it on the concrete sidewalk so his knees would not hurt as he edged the lawn by hand.
It occurs to me that many out there may not know how one edges lawns by hand. This edging wasn’t an exercise with a shovel. Lyle did it with a small trowel and yard sheers. The key here is by hand. Lyle did a lot of things by hand. He said it was the best way to do something. He said it was how he learned to do things when he was young.
Like many young kids, I talked things out with him, giving him expert advice when I thought he needed it. Lyle talked patiently with me as he worked giving me advice too as he worked. One day, somewhere along 1961, I asked him how old he was.
I know I shouldn’t have done that, and my mother probably chided me for asking Lyle, but the old guy didn’t slow his work and answered be direct. “Why Mr. Jerry, I don’t really know.”
I was shocked. How could Lyle not know how old he was? But I switched tactics with another question, “What is your earliest memory?”
Lyle gently placed his tools on his mat by his knees and turned to me. “Let me see. I think it was the day they came by an’ told us we was free.”
He nodded, wiped his brow, and picked up his tools again. “Yes, Mr. Jerry. We was all slaves, an’ I remember being confused. None of us knew where we needed to go.”
It took me some time to realize what Lyle had told me. It was years later that I figured out just how old Lyle was. That year was about 1961, the civil war ended in 1865, and he was old enough to remember it, say five or six years old—at least one hundred. There weren’t many Centenarians back then. Even with much better medical care, they aren’t common today.
I talked to Lyle quite a lot after that, with him telling me whatever he could remember. What I recollect most about it was how I was so appalled that someone had owned my friend Lyle. That was one of the stupidest things I could imagine.
Am I saying that book banning is as bad as slavery? I am saying the same ridiculous thought process arrived at the two conclusions.
Now back to book banning. Why does anyone try to tell you what you can and cannot read? It is because they want to control what you think. It is the same as someone hiding from the real things because they don’t like what happened years ago.
I don’t like what happened to Lyle, but that won’t change anything. What I can do is make sure it doesn’t happen again. To do that, I have to remember how absurdly stupid I thought it was.
If you don’t like the ideas in a book, how do you know if you haven’t read it? How can you discuss what you read unless you read it? Are you taking someone else’s word on what is in there? What if that other person hasn’t read it and is only taking someone else’s viewpoint?
Please think for yourself, talk about the book and chew it over with a friend or book club. True, it may have something you don’t like there, but the best way to find out is to read it. When you do, you may find a treasure trove of things you want.
Don’t ban the book.
Yeah, I know they have banned books in the past. We had slavery in the past too, but it doesn’t mean I want to do it all over again.
That is Stupid.
Now, speaking of books, check out my book here. Read it, discuss it, and review it. That way, others will know how you felt about it.