Category Archives: Quotes

The Big Questions – Part II

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For the past couple of days I’ve been reading The Big Questions on my way to school in the morning.  I love the feel of it, it’s very open and really makes you contemplate everything it addresses. I think I may have jinxed it because yesterday in Philosophy my teacher asked us to take out our books and a black marker.

We had an assignment due that day so it was kind of weird for him to ask us to take out the books, since we always do the reading at home. So before reaching into my bag, I asked him, “Why?” and he told me “We’re going to censor them.”

“We’re going to do it with our own markers?!” my classmate asked him way-too-excitedly

“Yes we are”

And he put up the page numbers on the board. Entire chapters. Pictures. Questions. Quotes. Single-lined phrases. And he went around to make sure we were all ‘censoring’. The classmate that was very excited about it was doing it with more energy than I had ever seen him putting into his actual work. Every single one of my classmates did it with a black board marker, eliminating the words completely. I cannot describe how much it shocked me. No one hesitated when he said “Censor these pages”. Some looked at them, said “Oh it talks about religion/oh it has a nude picture/oh it talks about sexuality/oh it talks about revolutions” and went on with their task. My excited classmate said it was like being in a KG coloring class. He also said this was like “government appreciation day”…to which I will not comment on. But me, being the odd one out that I am, instead watched everyone marking everything out. The markers were the type that are used with English magazines when celebrities are shown in their bikinis or other ‘inappropriate’ clothing, the type that you couldn’t see past no matter what. Every word, blacked out. No one cared to know what those words were! “The Authority” says they are not meant to be read – therefore they obeyed.

Personally I lied and said I didn’t have my book with me, because I wanted to keep reading the book. You know how there’s always that one student in Biology class that refuses to dissect the frog because he/she thinks it is an act of animal cruelty? I am that one student that refuses to ruin books because I think it is an act of book-torture (which I do think should be a crime)! The result was my teacher giving me another copy, telling me to censor it along with everyone else and give him back the uncensored version later. And after five minutes of watching everyone scribbling at their books, my teacher told me my time was limited and I had to get this done before class ended. So with tentative hands, a heavy heart, and a very light pink pen, I drew thin lines across pages, thin enough for a person to still be able to read the words. Someone seemed to get tired of all the ‘coloring’, and jokingly asked, “Can’t we just rip them out?” to which he was told, “Yes, as long as you throw the pages in the recycling bin and they don’t leave the room when the bell rings.” So he ripped the pages. Crunched them up into little balls. Aimed for the recycling trash like it was a basketball hoop. And went on chatting with his group.

I once read a quote that said, “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people.” Isn’t ripping out pages and blacking out words essentially a form of burning books? I’m really not lying when I say it hurt my heart to see my 17 and 18 year old classmates mindlessly blacking out extremely thought-provoking words that they would never understand the magnitude of, simply because they didn’t take a few moments to allow their curiosity to get the best of them.

  It wasn’t all blues though. My friend Nawaf particularly enjoyed censoring the picture of the nude woman. I love his version.

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Forgiveness

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I got this beautiful story off of Paulo Coelho’s blog:

An old man sold toys in the Baghdad market. Knowing that his sight was not quite perfect, his customers sometimes paid him with fake money.

The old man discovered the ruse, but did not say anything.
In his prayers he asked God to forgive those who cheated him.
“Perhaps they’re short of money and want to buy presents for their children,” he said to himself.

The time passed and the old man died. Standing before the gates of Heaven, he prayed once more:

– Lord! – he said. – I am a sinner. I did many wrong things, I am no better than the false coins I was paid. Forgive me!

At that moment the gates swung open and a Voice was heard:

– Forgive what? How can I judge someone who all through his life never once passed judgment on others?

 

Dinner with Wolves

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“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.” – Benjamin Franklin

I think this quote’s awesome. Wolves are obviously symbols of those who are powerful in society and hold a high-status position that intimidates everyone else. The lamb, of course, is the poor, weak citizen whose in a constant state of fear and anxiety, because he’s aware of how vulnerable he is in comparison to those who rule his land. The reasons ‘wolves’ is plural and ‘lamb’ is singular is, in my opinion, because when it comes to decisions being made regarding society, somehow the higher you are on the social pyramid, the louder your voice is. So, when two wolves agree to sit down with a lamb and discuss in a civil manner what they should have for dinner, that’s true democracy.