The Queen's College Library at the University of Oxford (K24, New Testament) by Xiaoze Xie
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
To find examples of tyranny both big and small, one needs look no further than for signs of censorship. Men in power fighting to suppress contrary ideologies are a danger to everyone, even themselves.
When it comes to censorship, banning is bad, but destroying is far more sinister. Though the former attempts to limit or contain, the latter strives to eliminate. Not just the opposition, but even the very memory and history of that opposition.
You might be surprised at how often you and I overlook censorship that directly impacts us. Our eagle eyes only scour the landscape for tyrant leaders. But what we fail, time and time again, to beware of is the tyrants holed up within our own minds. They censor, suppress, destroy...clear away huge parts of ourselves while we remain oblivious.
We close our mouths before speaking a thought, an opinion, a question we worry may be received poorly. We turn away from a point or person of interest. We agree to things we despise, kowtow to pressure from within to be the "right" kind of (compliant, inoffensive, harmless, admired) person. We disagree with points we would have argued in favor of had someone else - anyone else - uttered them or had our mood not demanded contrarianism.
I wonder how often these aberrations of self are intentional lies or misdirection. I wonder this because I've walked away from such uncharacteristic displays asking myself, "Why didn't I...couldn't I do or say what I really wanted to in that moment?" How great the power of perceived social opinion! I want to be liked and loved so much that I will presume that people will respond a certain way to my speech and action even when I have no evidence to suggest that my presumptions are accurate.
It's that tyrant within us who loathes who we are and who we want to be for whatever shitty-ass, arbitrary reasons he or she has devised. What is our response? Persist. Refuse to be banned and then burned. Speak up, act up, be your true self without sacrificing tact, compassion, and kindness. In other words, don't martyr yourself for a world who didn't ask you to.