Book store display still up from 2022 Banned Book Week
Poetry, The Daily

Where Freedom Ends

Book store display still up from 2022 Banned Book Week
on Flickr

Daily Note

Every day, a photograph, a poem. While on our adventure to the big city this week, we of course stopped at a book store close to where we were staying. I was surprised that the store still displayed a large collection of banned books from the 2022 Banned Book Week. I was even more surprised that books like “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and other Shel Silverstein books were included– And Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Howard Zinn, Phillip Pullman, and so many others.

My Heart Sank

It rather made my heart sink. I pick up the book. I decide to read. I don’t need someone else to decide for me.

In schools, professionals take care in guiding students to appropriate books. And like so many choices, children choose the things and books that help clarify the world. The world is more than the bubble in which we live out our daily lives, and books help us understand others. We all search for meaning, so we can live and work together, though we each are so different, but still have common aspirations and goals. We strive to be happy– and book choices allow us to live through experiences others have, giving us a window into which we can appreciate the struggles and hopes of others. We retain our own values, yet understand, or at least acknowledge, those of others– because we live together in neighborhoods and we work together in schools and work.

Many book bans remove books that represent the underrepresented. [Missing from the Shelf: Book Challenges and Lack of Diversity in Children’s Literature ] Why is it a group of resistive people afraid of others and their culture can attempt to wipe out their existence by removing literature that represents them?

I don’t understand the hate behind censorship. I do understand that my mind strives to understand others, not judge. I know it is not my place, nor do I have a right or options, to change others to my views. Together, our differences help the world progress.

We are a diverse nation, from it’s very beginning– different cultures, different religions, different traditions. We came together to forge a new nation where we all could pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Those striving to censor, legislate, and control others’ rights and opportunities are unAmerican. We– all of us — are the people, not one pale group who believe in their myth. Diversity is our strength. Everyone matters. Everyone has value. Even that group of resistive ones– but they have no right over me or you. That is not the vision of America.

I think I now understand the statement

the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

although credited to Martin Luther King, Jr., it has been a metaphor since the 1800s: Quote Investigator

There will always be those who strive to “own” liberty for themselves, but the oppressed will find and lead the ways back to justice for all. We are in a transitional period of chaos, however more us believe in each other, I think. We believe in justice and peace.

We’ll “walk with a walk that is measured and slow*” so freedom does not end.

walk with a walk that is measured and slow
Where the Sidewalk Ends— Shel Silverstein

So, what do we do about censorship?

Information and Resources: I’ve gathered resources from PEN [PEN at 100], American Library Association, National Coalition Against Censorship, and Brennan Center.

And so, a poem

a poem about where freedom ends… with censorship in our libraries and schools, with a nod to Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

Where Freedom Ends

there is a place where freedom ends
and before its loss begins
and there were books from which to live
and there were tales we could relive
but then they came, the ones resistive
to ban the choice and force their whims
there is a place where freedom ends
unless we stop these tyrant trends.

Sheri Edwards
03.09.23 069.365.23

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