Tough Topics & Classic Discussions

When you hear a new idea what do you do? Talk about it? Dismiss it? Put it off until tomorrow? How do you handle difficult subjects?

Bridgette Booth wrote a nice post that started me thinking about the topic of censorship. I’m not faced with censorship any where in my personal life. Why should I think it about? I thought about it because it was there, on Bridgette’s page. I could have ignored the topic which I do far too often. Getting involved costs time and effort and it isn’t my problem, right? Those are my excuses when I want to bury my head in the sane and ignore a difficult situation. In the LITClub we have the privilege of discussing difficult topics after reading the classics where the books act as a buffering agent which frees us up to speak more freely about our opinions. We discuss the topic in light of the characters instead of ourselves. This removes us from the topic and actually allows us to share our opinions more easily. Ray Bradbury causes us to look at the human condition, offering us the opportunity to realize how easy it is for a little bit of anything to go along way. Montag, the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451, is a book burner, a fireman, who is befriended by a non-book burner, Clarisse, who sees he is a fireman and wishes he would change. She questions his lack of desire for beauty. She doesn’t condemn him out right for being a fireman. She has concluded that burning is wrong, but when she encounters Montag she asks questions about his desire for beauty, not burning, hoping to reach his heart and open a door that will reveal to him the error of his ways. Clarisse was having a Socratic discussion with Montag. Rationally discussing ideas creates an environment for change, if change is needed, whereas condemnation closes doors[Click to tweet this quote.] We must guard against becoming fireman, burning ideas for fear they will grow, and we certainly want to avoid becoming like Mildred, Montag’s wife, who accepts every idea put before her as the good and right way. I want to identify most with Clarisse McClellan, who asks questions about ideas with a desire to move others closer to all that is good and right. Fahrenheit 451 explores the topics: censorship and the cost of standing for what is right in the face of great pressure. We all must decide whether to be a Clarisse and gently lead others to the truth or a Mildred and ignore the needs set before us. In LITClub we can talk about the implications of being a Montag, Mildred or Clarisse without  the intimation we might feel if we were to say, I am a Montag about certain ideas and this is how I ought to change.” What do you think about discussing tough ideas by using the classics as a backdrop? If you love stories, then I want to invite you to sign up for The Living Outside the Lines newsletter where you’ll get all kinds of exclusive content and sneak peeks into upcoming releases and events.

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  1. Hmm, food for thought! Back in my university days, I was like a bulldozer when it came to expressing what I felt was right. I made speeches, attended rallies, and was generally a thorn in the side of anyone who thought differently to me (and probably some of those who agreed with me). What I couldn't understand back then was the concept that there was a rich fabric of history behind every person and every choice they made or belief they held. Not recognising this made me see things in black and white, and fail to respect the choices of others if I believed them to be wrong. Clarisse might disagree with Montag, but she doesn't shout him down. I think it's important to remember that, ultimately, our shared humanity is greater than our different beliefs.

  2. What Naomi said. 🙂

    I read a quote (which I can't find and need) about how we see the old as better whenever there is new. That struck me as odd since we live in a world that clamors for the new: new iPhone, laptop, television, when the old is just fine.

    Ideas that threaten something deep inside – something I can't quite put my finger on – I react to cautiously. I want to think about them, examine them, hear what others think. Ideas that make sense – takes the complicated into simple – then those I embrace easily.

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