With Election Day today, it was time to reflect on what it means to be able to live in a free country. I spent a few moments this afternoon talking with my second graders about Election Day and that they could participate in a mock vote in their community. It is hard to express all that this freedom really means to 7 and 8 year-olds who, like many, seem to to take so much for granted.
At last month's Friends of the Hennepin County Library Penpals lecture, Salmon Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses (1988), spoke of one aspect of this great gift of freedom as an author -- the freedom of speech. The publication of this his fourth novel of his, brought about the issuance of a fatwa by the Ayatollah Khomeini, demanding his capture and execution. Rushdie then went into hiding for over a decade and threats and acts of violence followed in numerous countries, including public book-burnings, and assassinations and attacks on individuals involved in the selling, translating and publication of the novel. His new memoir,
Joseph Anton, gives a detailed account of his years in hiding under police protection.
Recently, in Atlanta, Rushdie spoke of how he is pleased that this novel is now being recognized for its worth as a piece of literature rather than for the scandal it has caused worldwide.
November 6th Atlanta Press Club Talk
Indeed, it is a wonderful thing to live in a country where you are free to speak, write, create and vote for your governmental leaders. I hope that I can help educate the next generation of citizens to value and uphold these freedoms in whichever country they eventually call home.