A to Z Challenge 2013

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Different Cultures Can Tie The Tongue

Yesterday I was reading an interesting article in Poets and Writers magazine.  Basically it involved one writer interviewing other writers and one in particular caught my eye.  This writer was a female writing in Jordan.  At first I became lost in her world as she described her background and talked about various things, such as her cultural ties and her other family members.  The more I walked through the article though, the more aware I became of just how restrictive a world she lives in.

Jordan is (in some respects) one of the more Western-thinking Arab countries.  And from her descriptions of life there, some aspects of her life sounded really interesting and inspirational.  As the interview progressed however, it became clear that there are still some things a writer cannot say in Jordan.  For example, criticizing the King is a crime.  The woman did admit to a bit of self-censoring in her writing as well.  While this didn't surprise me (since I've been to many countries in the world and shed my naivety quite some time ago), it did make me pause and think.

I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech, even when I don't agree with what's being said.  I cannot imagine writing an article or a story and having to worry about the words I choose or the topic I'm writing about.  This very blog post would likely be impossible in someplace like Jordan, since I'm not exactly hiding my dismay at their laws.  I like to think I have a fairly creative mind, but that creativity would be stifled in such a place.  I'd probably end up behind bars permanently (or worse).

I guess I am saddened by the fact that I love learning about the various cultures that make up humanity, and yet here is a culture (or society at least) that keeps its people from examining and celebrating their culture through writing.  It's truly unfortunate.

I keep hoping that someday the right people will rise to power and embrace at least some of the freedoms we enjoy in this country.   I don't think they need to model their governments exactly like ours, since we have plenty of bad examples as well.  But maybe someday they will find a happier medium that frees their people a little more without sacrificing their core cultural values (if that's possible).

Am I wishfully thinking here?  I'd love to hear anyone else's perspective or experiences.

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