The Winds of Change
September . . .
last days of summer linger seductively.
Autumn, beckons warmly,
Suggestively strutting her stuff
decorating the world with her bright hues
and subtle colors
her annual dance and helplessly in love
with the man called Winter
hoping to mellow his cold heart.
Autumn is my favorite time of the year, bittersweet and intoxicating with harvest smells and changing venues as birds flock together and fly to other places. Yellow jackets hover dangerously (for us humans) near trashcans looking for the warm weather’s last bounty. The summer flowers fade like the final note of a soprano’s aria. Leaves change into a firestorm of color—a feast for the eyes! Sweaters are dragged out of storage where they’ve been all summer. All of these signal change.
This last week of September at an end with the taste of the winter to come in the wind and the promises of summer at the same time is also the end of this year’s Banned Book Week. Like the change of the season, this week reminds me that it is possible for a winter so far beyond what the physical world could ever send in that all manner of books can be banned, just because one person or a group of people are offended. Winter in the worlds of growth, freedom of expression and thought and being; we could be trapped in a cold bitter world where the written word could mean doom.
Think of the book you are reading now. Is it a murder mystery in which someone lays dead and the person investigating is in danger from being close to finding the answer? Is your book a love story? Does the main character make love or simply have a one-night stand, a child out of wedlock or get a divorce? Is it a science fiction novel in which battle is done to save the world and best friends die trying to save one another? Is it a memoir or a biography in which the author bares his or her soul, with tales of incest, rape or having filched a candy bar from the discount store or a pad of paper from their office on which they wrote their bestselling book? Consider the dictionary; it too could be a banned book for the definitions it might hold of words we use daily, those curse words we use for emphasis in conversation or writing. Those words are likely to offend someone.
The truth of the matter is that if one looks hard enough and wishes to be offended, there are plenty of average and ordinary things to give offense in our reading materials. Snow White lived with dwarfs in the woods and her stepmother tried to poison her. Can you imagine banning that book? Banned Books Week is not a celebration but a reminder that because others are offended there are limits on which books we might read. That there are people in the world who wish to protect us from our own good sense and the freedom to choose.
There are only two things I believe should be banned and books are not one of them. Allowing a book to be banned should be banned, abolished, obliterated and outlawed. If those people that find a book, a story, a poem or a tale offensive, they should close the book, walk away and not recommend it to anyone else to be read. It’s that simple. The other is yellow journalism. Newspapers should be truthful and fair, since that is what they purport to be.
Language is gorgeous, provocative and evocative, elegant, graceful, hard and brash. It is in short a lot like autumn, used often, celebrated and read widely. Just as how one decides what color to wear, whether or not to brush her teeth or comb his hair, we should be allowed to read what we wish and make our own decisions about how we feel about that book. Take a stand! After all, it could be the very book you are reading today that could be banned next year or next month, because someone found it too offensive for people like you and me.
Perhaps it will be this year’s Banned Book Week, this week of transition in the physical world that will bring the winds of change and the light of freedom that will burn as brightly as autumn’s leaves in a bright October sun when we can all celebrate the fact that is no longer needed, that if people want to be offended by a book they can choose not to read it. I live in hope. Do you?
At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at