Notable Quotes: On Censorship and Persecution

August 31, 2010

You'll never know what this button said, and the world is sadder for that.It occurs to me that I haven’t done a Notable Quotes entry in a long while, despite the fact that my first attempt at the category has proven to be one of the most visited posts of my blog (thanks in no small part, I’m sure, to a three-month window where the accompanying image made the Google Images front page whenever someone searched for ‘books’).

I like to collect quotes, both from famous personages and from my own acquaintances. For this entry I’ve decided to highlight a few well-formed words on censorship and persecution. Powerful things have been said about these issues, and I enjoy a turn of phrase that forces me to think about what I’ve just read or heard. As the Notable Quotes category is still an underdeveloped one I’m going to tinker with the format a little and put in an explanatory sentence or two about why I appreciate each one. A couple will be repeated from my earlier entries. Forgive me.

“They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Niemöller wrote this about the apathy of German intellectuals towards the rise of National Socialism. It’s not an exact quote because he said a number of different versions of it after his release from a death camp at the end of the Second World War. Still, the idea of standing idly by while something terrible happens just because it hasn’t happened to you yet is one that humbles me. I get a chill knowing I would have acted exactly as he acted, and I would have suffered for it just as he did. I wonder if I would have had the strength after my ordeal to admit I was wrong? I doubt it, but I appreciate the fact that I’m not likely to ever have that part of my character so tested.

Read the rest of this entry »


Summer’s Ending: Time to Shake Things Up

August 27, 2010

Hello everyone!

Those of you who count yourselves as semi-frequent visitors have probably noticed that I haven’t been updating this blog regularly in a long while. There are a few reasons for that, and I might as well discuss the issues before I set the wheels in motion to remedy them.

First, this has been a wonderful summer, and I’ve been doing my best to make the most of it. That has taken up a pleasantly large portion of my free time, and if I could have these last few months a hundred times over I doubt I would do anything differently. Adding to the usual distractions falling under the nebulous description of  ‘making the most of my summer,’ I’ve gone to three different and wonderful weddings in the last three months, I was without internet for more than a week, and my new job is engrossing, engaging, and enjoyable. When all those factors are put together, I just haven’t been setting aside the time for blogging that I was willing to commit in the winter or spring.

Second –and as a result of the first– I’ve caught myself viewing this blog as a chore from time to time rather than a pleasure. The fault lies with me, as I’ve largely painted myself into a corner: My posts so far have often leaned towards the long and rambling, and as a result I’ve started ballparking how long it will take me to put together a couple of thousand coherent words before I begin to write it; I then give up the effort before I begin, and that is a poor way to build anything of worth or merit.

Third –and this one surprises me more than I would like to admit– I’ve found myself growing bashful. I’ve never had a problem sharing my thoughts with friends, family, and all you loveable strangers out there, but over the last couple of months I’ve picked up a few regular readers whose opinion matters a great deal to me: My girlfriend’s family have googled me, and they’ve been working through my blog’s backlist with a will. Recently they have even gone so far as to ask her to ask me to write more.

(Just a quick aside: Hello, Jim! I look forward to meeting you this September. I’m told we’re going to get along famously. Your daughters humour my interest in most of the same things they humour you about, and I seem to have scored major points with them on your behalf for understanding what a gabion basket is without prompting. I probably know as much about you as you know about me at this point, so here’s hoping we can skip the awkwardness of first meetings and just start off as friends.)

- – -

ADDITION FROM SEPT 15: Fun fact, the above paragraph was not well received. I was asked to remove this paragraph from the original post in strong terms, which I did, but it set in motion a series of events that led to the end of a promising relationship. I will never meet the man now. It’s been bothering me for weeks that I took this paragraph out, and so I’m putting it back in now that it doesn’t make any difference. If I made an error, it was coming from a good place, and I will stand behind it. Anyway, I’ll let you return to what is otherwise a very dull post.

- – -

After some careful thought, I’ve decided to overcome these three challenges as this blog moves forward towards its first anniversary this October. The first issue is largely a given: Summer is ending, and I have always had more free time when the sun doesn’t shine so much. Time will also be less of a factor given my solution to the second issue: While there will always be a place on this blog for my lengthy essays, stories, and anecdotes, I’m also going to start introducing new categories whose content will be suited to just a couple of hundred words per submission. To my mind it makes good sense to post something every day or two, rather than waiting a week or more to find the time and the topic worthy of something that would require a staple in hardcopy format.

Summers come and go. This blog will be around for a long while, and I’m going to shake things up in the coming weeks to keep it fresh and new and enjoyable for all my readers, be they family, friend, stranger, or people in the process of transitioning between those categories. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Cheers!

–Geoff


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