Gaining new perspectives requires an open mind and a willingness to step outside the comfort zone. This cannot be achieved when governments, religious institutions and corporations endeavor to expurgate the evidence. Information is power, as George Orwell said in his book 1984, “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.” Today begins the American Library Association’s week long tribute to Banned Books. Even with our first amendment those institutions sighted above, as well as individual citizens, continually attempt to censor our constitutional rights.
I was first introduced to Banned Book Week when I was a bookseller in 1988. What was I thinking that things would change in 30 years? It seems now that we have all of humanity’s information literally at our fingertips, we know less about the world around us than ever before. Misinformation abounds. It is controlled and fed to us through our phones, computers and televisions. The key is finding the source, a credible and reliable source. I always wondered how Winston Smith could change a well-known-fact to where the entire world accepted it as truth. It is called – the Internet.
Orwell reminds us that any information can be destroyed and changed by those in charge, his book ranks within the top ten of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Classics. My private library is littered with books by Dickens, Hemmingway and Twain, all making this list. In keeping hard copies, I feel I am making sure these significant books stay in their original form for future generations. My editions are filled with the words that influenced me. My perspective is forever altered from reading Banned Books. Being able to read such radical thoughts has tough me Equality and Literacy are core values in my life’s philosophy. As I continue reading my way through every banned book- who knows what else I’ll discover about myself.