I already liked J.K. Rowling. I mean if she only had Harry Potter and if she only had the story that she outlined the whole magical world while she was on welfare, I guess that would have been enough to garner my admiration. However, she has created a mega-fan following and constantly keeps in touch with bazillions of people. Oh, and she has continued writing both fiction and a play. Then, she speaks cogently and incisively on social and political issues. That’s the element that prompted this post.
On Monday, May 16, Rowling spoke at the PEN Literary Awards Gala. Her focus? The disturbing tendency to attempt silencing voices of those who don’t happen to agree with us: censorship. She referred specifically to a petition that had circulated in Great Britain to not allow Donald Trump into the country — something like 500,000 signatures. While Rowling said that she disagrees with almost everything Trump says, she fervently defends his right to say it.
Some of her words capture the essence of the divisive and arrogant attitudes on both sides of this political season, especially when social issues are at stake. A democratic dialog and the ability to understand one another’s position has been lost in the heated passion of misguided extremism. I remember the words of Martin Luther King here: “I have decided to be an extremist for love.” If we’re going to be extreme, then that is the issue to engage in. Then, we will tolerate and respect the views of others.
This inability to listen, think, analyze, and problem solve — rather than screaming at each other and resorting to abusive, fallacious ad hominem statements — reveals a decline in our education system as well as the desperate state of far too many who have not come to know Self. Almost no better proof of this exists than can be seen in the absolutely ridiculous amounts of money spent on thirty second political ads that only attack opponents. What an absolute freaking waste that would be for an enlightened public, and such ads would have zero impact. Politicians and their peeps have the right to do it, and I’m glad they do because it illustrates my point. We need to know our hearts and respond from them — not ego.
We should be able to dialog and find solutions. I don’t even say compromise, because if enlightened dialog were the norm, I believe that ideas would evolve that neither side had considered.
Referring to Trump, Ms. Rowling makes the point that if her “offended feelings can constitute a travel ban on Donald Trump,” she would “have no moral grounds on which to argue that those offended” by issues that she cares for would be able to silence her, too.
I love the next statement: “If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand along tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.”
Then, Ms. Rowling shares the story and words of Tal al-Mallohi, an 18 year old Syrian girl who was imprisoned because she wrote this in a blog post she made: “With rational thought, two great souls from here and from there can agree with each other, irrespective of the vast separation of time and space. Oh my brother human, if I disagree with you in thoughts, principles and beliefs, does this deny the fact that we are both human? All you and I have to do is respect each other, tolerate the views of your opponents coolly and patiently. While listening to them, do not think to respond without listen to all opposing opinions.”
She is still in prison since 2009. We need to be careful about our demands and simple majority rules. An ego-driven majority that declares something offensive and seeks to silence or eliminate the offense is not right. It is not about right and wrong.
I have borrowed extensively from the Mashable site, so I am giving the link here: http://mashable.com/2016/05/17/jk-rowling-donald-trump-speech/#Qn9pRXnFu8q3.
The work of PEN is, in part, to spotlight stories of writers at risk like Tal al-Mallohi’s, and they do an amazing job. Check out their website. AND during this political season think about what we have and what it takes to preserve enlightened discourse, and when you look at the stories of the oppressed on the PEN website, I hope you see that there is no place for censorship and threats because we don’t agree with someone. Become self-aware so that you can be aware of others, so that hearts can be the filter and source of debate rather than the ego.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!