Skip to content

Reflections: Nothing To Lose…

Spread the love

Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.” Nadine Gordimer

Reflections: Nothing To Lose... censorship or a calling...

Self-censorship: The act of censoring one’s own work or other means of expression out of fear of, or deference to the sensibilities of others, without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority. (Wikipedia)

Every day, many of us are held hostage by our upbringing, our self-imposed boundaries, our fears, and by the covert and sometimes overt influence of others. We self-censor our most revolutionary thoughts not to silence our muse but to save ourselves, and to silence the inner and outer critics who inform us quietly or loudly that certain choices are potentially explosive. If you grew up in an oppressive nation where speaking what you think could cost you your life, you learned quickly to speak in code, to choose your words carefully, to temper the voice of dissension… You had everything to lose.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge. The #Trust30 Prompt: Too often we censor ourselves, our actions, and our work in hope or fear of what might happen if we otherwise don’t. What words would you write today, and what actions would you take, if you had nothing to fear, nothing to lose?

“Self-censorship is not just self-betrayal and self-abandonment, but soul-betrayal and betrayal of our Muse, our inner voice, our highest self.” Steven Pressfield

Reflections: Nothing To Lose... lift the wall of silence if you are called...

It takes enormous courage to express a revolutionary thought; one that goes against societal norms, against the grain, and then to stand firm on it. I believe there are those who are called to lift the wall of silence, to express great ideas; original thinking and flashes of brilliance that raise human consciousness. Alas, many of them are martyred, sacrificed to the cause, mauled by the powerful and frightened who fear their control will be weakened… self censorship is not betrayal if you are not willing to die for your views.

It is not abandonment of your muse or your voice if you do not feel compelled to express a particular sentiment or pursue a specific artistic endeavor. It is not a rejection of your higher self to pause and edit, it takes self awareness and a certain amount of self-preservation to remain silent.  And let he who feels called to throw his lot on the fire of full, unchecked expression do so willingly… He alone has nothing to lose.

If you grew up in a household where religious rigidity and hate festered, where certain books and music were considered toxic, and the only politics accepted was that of the controlling body; the benevolent dictator, the tyrannical or Machiavellian leader, you learned pretty quickly that your point of view could cost you… You had everything to lose.

“Every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reflections: Nothing To Lose... NY Book burning society: This too shall pass and it did...

Censorship: The act, practice, or process of suppressing speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to a group or the general population. (Wikipedia/Free Dictionary)

Each of us has an inner gauge; a boundary of limits we place on ourselves. We choose when, if ever, to cross it. It is for us to decide our limits; when to speak, when to hold back … not others.  It is easy to sit in the comfort of our homes, in nations that value justice and freedom, where rules and regulations are challenged, and bad leaders are sanctioned, and … wax poetic about the beauty of creativity, the freedom of expression, the joyfulness of embracing our muse and listening to our inner voice and connecting with our higher self, unfettered by restrictions, boundaries, the bludgeoning of our words, our creative works, our voice… You have nothing to lose.

For every book that is burned and every word or act that stands against censorship, there is a quiet, steady voice that finds another way, another approach to free us all from the oppression of suppression. I believe that it is the duty of the free to lend their support and compassion to those who fight to be free. We can fight for burned books and defend others who want to be unchained. We can claim our voice, express it, embrace the fecundity that is our muse and we can afford to do those things…  we have nothing to lose. What do you think? When and why do you self-censor? Do you know your boundaries or do you frequently recalibrate them? Do Share. Thank you! 🙂

This post was inspired by two prompts; one from WP Daily Post: We all have limits for what we are willing to try, or do, but how do you know that you haven’t gone far enough? Or when you go too far? and from Too often we censor ourselves, our actions, and our work in hope or fear of what might happen if we otherwise don’t. What words would you write today, and what actions would you take, if you had nothing to fear, nothing to lose?

Positive Motivation Tip: Whether you have everything to lose or nothing to lose, do not be swayed by others, choose your path with wisdom.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Perfect wall, bonfire and NY BookBurning via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

39 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/07/2011 1:30 am

    I enjoyed your thoughts on this topic. I find it hard to trust my own judgement sometimes – especially if it goes against the majority.


    • 09/07/2011 5:29 am

      You are not alone and it is something many struggle with… We all want to be liked and accepted and we have our upbringing to contend with too… Some people are more vocal and READY to do combat. TY! 🙂

      • 09/07/2011 10:16 pm

        I should add that while some want to do combat, the rest of us want to live peacefully, enjoy a cup of tea… read a good book and chat/connect with our blogs and blog friends. 😆

  2. 09/07/2011 1:33 am

    In your Positive Motivation Tip you have included the two main points: Choosing one’s path and wisdom.

    Choosing one’s path implies that we know where we are going and have set our priorities, but also that it must truly be OUR path. Only then will we be able to evaluate what we need to do or not, will have the courage to act accordingly and to take responsibility for it.

    Wisdom is the understanding that there is no one-fits-all solution, neither regarding self-censorship nor anything else in life. Wisdom and conscious awareness of What Is and what we want always take into account our ultimate goal. There are times when we have to stick our heads out and speak up, and others where we have to wait.

    It may take courage to run into a wall or into fire, but then what? Patience and right timing combined with endurance take just as much courage, but eventually they will lead to the results we want.

    • 09/07/2011 4:43 am

      Interesting points. You are implying we know where we are going when we choose our path. It is not always the case. Some do, many don’t. But we choose anyway. We can choose a path on a forked road with anticipation that it will lead us to our destination; the path might lead us elsewhere. That is fine.
      How many times do we make choices expecting certain outcomes and something else shows up? Life is not so perfectly delineated that our path and our wisdom are fully outlined and defined in clear-cut ways. As per my tip, for A it will manifest as one thing and for B another. You choose a path, you bring all of yourself, your history and your baggage to it.
      When I think of the great movements in history; those that brought about profound change, all took courage, patience and time … they also cost lives; the results were not always what we wanted but they brought about change. TY for your comment! 🙂

      • 09/07/2011 7:57 am

        I suppose few are those who see their individual path and their destination with clarity right when they start out. Refining our path happens eventually, takes time and good shoes because of all the detours available.

        When we make the first conscious step we take a big risk – plus, for added “excitement”, we have to blindly accept the responsibility for our actions. We have no clear vision of where we’ll end up, or what will be the consequences of our choice. We have no idea of the obstacles and opportunities we may meet on the way – they might be exactly what we need, or obstacles might turn out to be opportunities in disguise, or vice versa.

        Every moment of the day we arrive at a “forked road” without road signs, but how often do we just keep on walking because we “think” we know, act out of habit, or have been told which is the right direction? How often do we actually choose, that is consciously? And yet another challenge: How can we expect to make the – for us – right choices as long as we don’t really know who we are?

        Yes, definitely the paths of A and B are not the same. And the path will change direction for one and the same person as they refine it. This refining happens for all of us all the time, right this moment, with and despite all the baggage we’ve got, as we strive to make the best of what we’ve got until the fog lifts.

      • 09/07/2011 2:01 pm

        I hear you and this is why self-inquiry is very important to do. (not everyone is interested in SI and that is life) As we delve deeper into the questions that matter to us, we begin to understand the patterns we have followed in our lives and where they have led us…. Eventually, many of the questions stop; we reach a place of peace within, a place of knowing that the universe has an innate intelligence that propels/guides us forward and our role is to be present. We learn to focus on our own narrative. We learn the fog will lift in its own time and we learn to do our work and TRUST. This month my healing/meditative group agreed our word of the month = TRUST. I like that word. 🙂

      • 09/07/2011 3:26 pm

        You probably know theses quotes; I hope you don’t mind that I post them anyway:

        Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. — Khalil Gibran

        Our distrust is very expensive. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

      • 09/07/2011 3:41 pm

        Aye! Two of my favorite writers/poets. 😉

  3. 09/07/2011 2:14 am

    I know of someone who was taught by his parents to rob houses and sell drugs. He was raised that way since he was a kid. He went to prison because of the things he did that his own parents told him to do. Now he’s older and wishes he questioned them when he was young.

    • 09/07/2011 4:08 am

      Yes, it is important to question and to exercise our own moral judgment; even under trying conditions, but it is not easy to do when you live under enormous oppression. Some can challenge the status quo while others don’t have the stomach for it. 🙂

  4. 09/07/2011 2:19 am

    Life is a journey not just a end destination. Going with the flow is so important. I use to resist it all now I don’t. I am accepting each day as it comes moment by moment.

    • 09/07/2011 4:06 am

      Life is definitely a journey, I concur. Yet, some of us get caught up on the destination, we forget to focus on living and being present on the journey… Hmmm. It takes a lot of energy to live on the path of resistance… It has its rewards but we must be ready for it. I like a bit of both as it keeps me on my toes. 🙂

  5. 09/07/2011 4:10 am

    So thought provoking ..unto thine own self be true..why do we tend to forget that?

    • 09/07/2011 4:48 am

      Do we forget or do we hold back because we fear the wrath of others… ?
      On paper, the exhortations to be, to do, look so simple… they are for some but not all and that is why we have such disparities in the world…
      unto thine own self be true. I like that advice anyway. 🙂

  6. 09/07/2011 4:21 am

    You need courage to speak out especially when your words are controversial. But beware when you are spurred on by others whispering encouragement – you then become their voice because they lack courage. Ha HA don’t be surprised when they disapear into the wordwork and you are left standing alone. It happened to me on several occassions until I learned to keep my own counsel and not to be used by others.


    • 09/07/2011 5:38 am

      PiP, You took the words right out of my mouth…. that is the danger around being coerced to speak up and speak out; to throw caution to the wind for the sake of our craft… Often, those goading one on, linger until the fire gets too hot and then they vanish and you become … the sacrificial lamb; the scape goat. 🙂

      • 09/07/2011 3:52 pm

        I’ve been the sacrifical lamb on several occasions! I even walked out of my job because the boss was bullying everyone – there was an investigation and not ONE person backed me up. However, years later one of my ex-colleagues came up to me in the supermarket and appologized. They had their opportunity but did not have the courage to see it through. I did not know what to say so I just hugged her. Still I did not get mean I just got even as I was head hunted by their main competitior who treated me really well and appreciated my honesty! Life is full of surprises!

    • 09/07/2011 8:02 am

      *thumbs up* !

    • 09/07/2011 9:37 pm

      Indeed it is… and experience is a great teacher… The ones who leave you holding the bag are the betrayers of trust; self-serving rabble-rousers who had no intention of following through on the injustices they were shouting about;-)

  7. 09/07/2011 4:28 am

    Really insightful post! Most often than not I censor myself – abilities, thoughts, and even emotions. I fear that what I say or do or feel might be wrong or not applicable. Mostly, I am afraid in feeling stupid or judged. I erect walls to keep myself safe. Then at times, I regret not saying my thoughts, not acting on a whim, not showing my true feelings when in the end it would have been accepted. Victim of programing perhaps..

    • 09/07/2011 4:54 am

      We are all victims of our social programming; some more so than others. Can we change those tapes? Yes, it will take commitment and effort. What I always have to remember to say is that some people like their programming just the way it is and don’t want to change… C’est la vie!

  8. 09/07/2011 2:52 am

    greetings actually:
    I am considering to write about the fact, that Germany will sell 200 tanks to Saudi Arabia – I am hesitating, because it is not related to the rule: MIRTH & MOTIVATION

    • 09/07/2011 4:04 am

      Yes… and you may still choose to write about it as long as you are willing to deal with any agida that comes your way… and then maybe not. 🙂

      • 10/07/2011 1:33 am

        there was a self-censorship vs. writing about the 200 tanks deal Germany – Saudi Arabia – because it makes me feel sad and helpless. But no censorship vs. writing about an Italian female beauty photographer, like the flickr photo community maybe would do – maybe I am wrong? At least in the eyes of Muslim women in Arabia?

      • 10/07/2011 1:35 am

        related: to modern-aphrodites

  9. 09/07/2011 10:17 am

    Those who have nothing to lose are willing to speak up and fight because the odds are with them. They can only rise up and gain something. Those who do have something to lose- and that would be the vast majority of us- must always, always temper our thoughts for self-preservation of society, of safety, of financial security, most anything. Inside our thoughts are always free within ourselves- it is only when those thoughts must be shared through some form of communication that filters become involved. There will always be filters, unless you are “crazy” or have nothing to lose…

    (Very busy week – 1 week to the biggest trial of my career – I’m still lead counsel! <3 to you Elizabeth- will get here when I can!)

    • 09/07/2011 2:55 pm

      Amen to that and I’m all for following our own promptings rather than jumping into the fray without understanding its ramifications. Having filters and being sensitive with our communication is a peaceful act. We can still speak out against oppression and seek justice; it’s all in the delivery and determination we have it… plus the stomach. 😆

  10. 09/07/2011 11:09 am

    Censorship… interesting topic Elizabeth. I have to say, no one has ever accused me of not speaking my mind. I am grateful to live where I do and have that freedom. I can’t imagine living in fear of the powers that be at every turn. You brought that to the forefront and reminded us how fortunate we truly are.

    • 09/07/2011 3:01 pm

      We are fortunate because we have not taken a contrary view on issues out there and we have rules that guide us legally. If we look around, we will see what happens to those who do take an unpopular view.
      Even in a democracy, there are forms of censorship everywhere. It is subtle, even benign until you step out of line; ignore public decorum or accepted opinion and then the machine will rear its head. Yes, we are fortunate … up to a point. 😆

  11. 09/07/2011 12:25 pm

    sometimes my decisions are right, sometimes they’re wrong and puts me in trouble but It’s better to try than to live a life of regret. Very inspiring post that motivates us to try and pursue, to follow our hearts and dreams, to believe that we can do it no matter what. Stay blessed.

    • 09/07/2011 3:04 pm

      TY! Yes and you are not alone on this… To err is human and to forgive is divine. We are not automatons that can be programmed 100% to deliver in an exact way all the time. Being human allows us gray areas and our share of foibles… that is why life is a journey. We take it and stumble, learn, grow, share alone the way… Perfection not required. 🙂

  12. 09/07/2011 5:09 pm

    Perfection not required! I like that. The comments have already covered much I would/could have said, especially Pip’s perspective.

    This article is exactly why I have my Fair Warning page – while I did not censor myself, for specific reasons, I wanted to make it clear why.

    I do tyhink as we get older we tend to be more forthright, we tend to live in the moment more – we realise there are less moments ahead of us!

    • 09/07/2011 9:46 pm

      I hear you and thought about you when I wrote the post… Sometimes, others can be our advocates and help say what we can’t… Also some are more inclined to put it out there and damn the consequences. Now I can go back to borrow Chris’s comment … “To thine self be true”… and say so true as we must learn what we can/cannot do… know our limits. With age we pick our battles and leave other things alone.

  13. 09/07/2011 5:11 pm

    There have been those who have not approved of the way I’ve chosent to address some of the topics on SLTW:

    Suicide * Bullying * Marital Fidelity * Remaining Child-Free

    Whenever we go against the “party line” or accepted wisdom on a controversial subject, the sheep dogs start nipping at our heels to get us back in line.

    I’m getting better and better about ignoring them. 😀

    Great post!

    • 09/07/2011 9:49 pm

      Oh yeah! Nancy, I sure do remember some of those sheep dogs you had to deal with… You’ve done a great job handling their tirade… Not everyone is up for it or can deal with it.TY! 🙂

  14. 11/07/2011 12:04 pm

    Good post. I have a person in my life that is influenced by others all the time – she will not speak up or make a comment as she is so worried about what others will say. She censors everytihngs she says. I am going to print your post and let her read it!!
    Your words also remind me of the inspirationa quote by Deepak Chopra:
    “The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.”

    Don’t be one of those people who 30 years from now thinks back and wonders what if……


  1. Reflections: Beauty in Ten Ordinary Things… | Mirth and Motivation
  2. Nothing to fear? My 1st Video-BLOG #trust30 | Miriam Gomberg

Your Comment is Appreciated!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.