‘Raise your voice’ over censorship

My boyfriend recently got a job at an art gallery. One of the interview questions was what he would do and how he would respond if a visitor approached him offended by the art that was displayed.

This got me thinking about censorship.

Ever hear of the banned books list? It is an entire text that names all the supposedly “immoral” pieces of literature written — classics like “The Great Gatsby” or (a favorite in this state) the Bible. The fact that the concept of banned books still exists infuriates me. It is a disservice to us and our children to not expose ourselves to all types of literature, ideas and beliefs.

Many people have lost their lives for simply believing in what they do and expressing those beliefs. People have lost their lives for voicing their opinions, their creativity and their ideas. They have been excommunicated, tortured, outcast and scorned.

The most recent case of this was Charlie Hebdo, in which journalists in Paris lost their lives depicting Muhammad in their satirical publication. It was, in short, a terrorist attack on a literary entity that simply spoke their minds and showcased their creativity and humor.

The fact of the matter is that we are not all the same nor should we aspire to be. It sounds cliché, and you would think that by now, everyone would know it and accept that fact, but we don’t.

We all are unique right down to our DNA. We all come from different backgrounds, go through different experiences and have different tastes. We will be confronted and uncomfortable with things that we don’t like or agree with, and that is OK. It is not OK to make threats or kill because someone doesn’t bow to your whim and wishes or because you don’t fit their mold, their expectations or their standards.

We can no longer be afraid to say what we think for fear of our lives. We must respect the views and opinions of others without thinking it is a blatant disrespect towards us and our differences. My best friend of more than a decade is an atheist, and I am devout Christian. It can work. It does work because we have a mutual respect and love for each other and see each other as uniquely made human beings that teach and challenge each other.

Granted, words hold a lot of power, and they must be delivered with respect — there is no doubt about that. Censoring ourselves and others goes against democracy and freedom.

So raise your voice. Be loud and be proud. Stick up for others. Learn to embrace other things. Keep an open mind and an open heart.