Recently, I finished reading the classic and well-acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451. Like many others, I was immediately compelled to the plot. This novel takes place in the (possibly) near future (presumably after 2022 because the book references a nuclear world war during that year) in a futuristic society where all books are considered illegal. In order to enforce this policy, firemen ironically have the job to ignite fires in order to burn this “contraband.” Due to the lack of books, the characters in this novel are brainwashed into believing what the government wants everyone to think. By receiving this perspective, they are limited to one viewpoint which is government’s ultimate wish because it is under the belief that books expose individuals to thinking liberally. According to this government, this kind of thinking leads to differences and chaos.
Indeed, Bradbury’s creation of this world is extremely interesting. However, I find it extremely ominous and a huge potential for our future. Have you ever noticed how quickly we are all to judge someone for not having the “popular” belief as us? For example, take the Phil Roberston instance where he expressed his belief that marriage is created for man and woman. Immediately, media, politicians, and individuals attacked him for his viewpoint. Yet, who is to condone anyone’s beliefs? As myself and Phil are from the United States of America, we stand under the principles of freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion. Both of these enable us to form our own values and morals. Of course, not all of our values and morals can be considered correct. For example, a man who believes that killing another man is morally acceptable is wrong because government has placed specific laws against murder. Overtime, government has increased its restrictions on what we can and cannot do as people. As more shootings are occurring, government is seeking ways to enforce gun restrictions. A government that protects and serves its country is not a bad thing however Bradbury poses an interesting question in his novel on when are there too many restrictions and conformity.
Books expose billions of people everyday to different worlds, ideas, and beliefs. Truly, books change and impacts its reader both positively and even negatively. No one can predict the future of books. However, what if books do begin presenting themes that go beyond the popular belief or ideas that can potentially be harmful to individuals? For example, if there is a book on suicide, should there be restrictions placed on it because people could get the idea to commit suicide themselves? I think not. There needs to be a point where we stop finding scapegoats. The root of problems and chaos does not come from a man against gay marriage or a gun or a book. Rather, we are people create these harmful situations largely I believe because we are misinformed or easily swayed. Therefore, I believe books present the positive attribute of exposing readers to liberally thinking.
This movement of thinking more open-minded does not start by a silly blog post. It starts with you! Go pick up a book and immerse yourselves in a more enlightened way of thinking!