Safe. Adjective: Protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost.
In practice, our society has redefined what this word means because we have also redefined what harm means:
Harm. Noun: Physical injury, especially that which is deliberately inflicted.
We are at a point where we are afraid to have hard conversations. We don’t have the conversations because we want to be safe – not exposed to risk. The risk of being uncomfortable, the risk of being shamed, the risk of experiencing true feelings and/or empathy.
We all will pay the ultimate price for it.
Because we are afraid to have these conversations, we ban curriculums, books, and people. And we do this without research and data, without challenging discussions about desired and unintended outcomes. I say “we” because we put politicians in office without thinking twice about their agenda. Those politicians feel they have a blank check from their constituents – not all of them, just the simple majority.
So they make laws to keep us safe. But that is not enough for your pathos, so they involve your children.
“We do this to keep our children safe.”
Ask anyone who has lived in a big city. Your safety is a myth. Just because you feel good about yourself does not mean some type of conflict will not touch you. You can choose to live in your bubble, but it is only a matter of time before someone comes with a needle. “Safety” makes people weak because it causes people to stop asking questions. It causes people to stop thinking critically about positive and negative consequences. “Now that I have provided you safety, you may now relax. No need to arm yourself.”
So, we graciously take safety without considering the cost.
What is the cost of banning a book?
What is the cost of limiting curriculum?
What is the cost of keeping a group of individuals from equal access?
The cost is more than you think.
If you ban one book, what will stop you from banning another?
If you limit one curriculum, what will stop you from limiting another?
If you limit one group of people, what will stop you from limiting another?
Where is the line? What is the litmus test? What are the criteria? You will find that there are none.
The craziest thing is that we have literature to tell us the cost. Guess what? Many books are on the banned, censored, or challenged list. Let that soak in. See for yourself:
1984 – Control of society and information, Independence and Identity, Psychological Manipulation, and Loyalty.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Power and Hypocrisy, Survival, Rebellion, Womanhood, and Commodification.
Lord of the Flies – Man vs. Nature, The Nature of Evil, Dehumanization of Relationships, and Individualism vs. Community.
Flowers for Algernon – Treatment of the Mentally Disabled, Ignorance and Bliss, and Intellect vs. Emotion.
Grapes of Wrath – Common Experience, Corporate Greed, Industrialization, Organized Labor, and Hope.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Native American perspective on life on and off the Reservation.
The Color Purple – Spirituality, Race, Racism, Gender Roles, Self-Discovery.
The Lottery – Vulnerability of the individual, The importance of questioning tradition, and The Relationship Between Civilization and Violence.
I could go on and on…
Again, literature in our public libraries tells us what will happen if society accepts the control of information. Literature and curriculum that many politicians refuse to read or study but want to govern based on hearsay – based on fear. Can you not see how it is suspicious that the same information that contains the themes mentioned earlier are the ones that are being taken away from the public? Answer: It is not suspicious; it is intentional.
The answer is not to ban information. The answer is to teach responsible analysis of information. The answer is to teach critical thinking. The answer is to have discussions to discover and not to be “correct.”
Our schools are doing that. Stop believing what the news media tells you and spend some time in a public school getting to know the educators. Build your community by getting to know your neighbors and their children. Have open discourse with people who think differently than you do.
We no longer have to read about dystopian futures. We are headed towards it – and that is the scariest part.