"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing--that cutting edge thinkers will disrupt the mainstream public's comfort level is a given, and oftentimes the opposition that a particular person or idea generates is in direct proportion to the uniqueness, importance, and potential impact the person or idea has on the world.
I like this illustration, because it's an objective observation of the situation. It's not saying that the people who are doing the banning are ignorant or evil, or that the fear that a new idea instigates is wrong--it's just pointing out that new ideas (especially ground breaking ones that have the potential to change people's ways of thinking) naturally ruffle feathers and stir up passionate reactions and opposition.
The Beauty Of Being Banned: Pressure Creates Diamonds
For bunches of creative thinkers throughout history, the opposition they faced actually added fuel to their passion and freed them to expand their ideas and creative expression even further.)
Here are some other perks that go along with being a cutting edge, forward thinking, feather-ruffling creative visionary:
- A strong reaction means you've hit a nerve. Whether your creativity is expressed in your writing or in the products you create with your business, when people look at you weird :-), like they're afraid that the thing you've created might change people's behavior, that can actually be a good sign. Definitely, the more powerful and unique an idea, the greater chance that it will be opposed by the mainstream public (at first, anyway).
- A violent opposition means that your idea has the potential to change people's lives. Let's face it--ideas are banned because they're considered "dangerous" to the status quo. Any idea that does not have the potential to elicit change in our world in some way will just be ignored, rather than opposed. The more potential an idea has of instigating change, the greater likelihood that it will be challenged.
- When an idea or book is banned, it brings more attention to the work. Banned ideas generate powerful reactions in people, both for and against them, and with so much passion surrounding the idea it can't help but grow. The irony is that folks try to squelch ideas with the purpose of making them die, but violently challenging something actually just brings lots of attention to it. We've all heard the saying "There's no such thing as bad publicity". Even if your idea is being opposed, chances are it'll get more attention than it would have otherwise.
- "Off limits" ideas spark our sense of daring adventure. Come on, admit it--There's a little thrill that goes along with reading a book that someone doesn't want us to read, just as there's a secret thrill that goes along with creating something that is so innovative that people stand up and take notice. Whether you're an artist or an entrepreneur, standing a bit away from the flock is always a plus.
- It's impossible to ban ideas. Some people get worried when they see books being banned, but if a work has an important enough idea, and if it's high profile enough to get on the banned list, then it's really highly unlikely that the flame of that idea will be quenched. Consider this-- some of the most opposed authors in history have been:
- John Steinbeck (Of Mice And Men)
- Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience)
- Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye, and Beloved)
- Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
- J.D. Salinger (Catcher In The Rye)
Did all the attention that goes along with having an idea that inspires violent opposition cause these folks to fade into obscurity? No way! Their groundbreaking ideas are still with us being talked about all the time, and the ideas they presented in these banned books have influenced and spawned a whole new generation of creative visionaries who are inspired by their unique thoughts and their willingness to stand away from the pack.
A New Generation Of Artists (Yup, this is you!)
As entrepreneurs and creative thinkers, it really helps to keep in mind that walking on the cutting edge is sometimes a bit thorny. Everyone wants to be liked, everyone wants to be approved of, but if you are a visionary thinker in your field chances are you won't always be greeted with rose petals and applause. :-)
To be the first to have an idea is thrilling and scary at the same time, but we can take comfort in looking to these other artists whose ideas did not elicit a warm welcome at first, but who stood strong, believed in themselves, and used the passion and momentum surrounding their work to lift their ideas to a greater audience, one that transcends place and time.
What's Your Favorite Banned Book?
This year's banned book week is coming up soon (September 29-October 6).
Please let us know, in honor of these courageous, fellow creative visionaries of the past, which book will you be reading from the banned book list or which is your favorite banned book of all time?
My chosen book this year isThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
There are a whole bunch of amazing books on that list--I can't wait to hear what you'll be reading!