Elif Shafak on Pluralism and Freedom of Expression

“Words have their own particular taste just like the food” world’s renowned novelist Elif Shafak informs the audience while delivering a Ted Talk on the topic “The Revolutionary Power of Diverse Thought”. She even tries to make the listeners taste how some words have different flavours to them. She connects this idea with the dream of creating a pluralistic world where people having different creeds, colours and identities can peacefully and harmoniously live together. With an unfathomable despair on her face, she laments that the world had for long been divided into two major domains—one solid and other liquid world. For the time being, she follows the belief of some scholars who believe that our world is living in the liquid times where uncertainty rules supreme everywhere.

According to her, this world has uselessly been fragmented into binary oppositions due to the absence of pluralistic societies. People living in the oxidant countries try to make the people having their roots in orient world feel inferior in all aspects of life. She mourns this bitter reality by recalling her own personal experience when an American scholar came to her and malevolently asked that feminists were supposed to exist only in the countries like that of Turkey. Shafak says she was mind-boggled to know the imaginary division of world into two camps.

Moreover, she resents the rulers or politicians who more often exploit the emotions of the ruled for their personal gains and that sadly the academia of the world has yet to explore the importance of emotions which make up a large part of our being. Living under the suffocating conditions and feeding the people with nationalist ideas leave a considerable impact on the lives of the young ones too. When she wrote a book for children, Shafak had to visit a lot of educational institutions for promotional purposes. She recalls that young minds were very eager to become writers in the future. But as soon as they turned teenagers or adolescents, they had given up even the idea let alone becoming writers.

In the end, to give a notion that how to coexist with the people different from ours, she quotes Khalil Jibran, a Lebanese writer, who once said, ” I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind”. She concludes with once again reminding the audience of the taste of words. This time she says writers and storytellers have a Homeland they can call their own and that is “Storyland”. It tastes like freedom.

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  1. Maria Batool says

    Always worth to read…!!
    & I am pretty sure by reading these type of easy & informative writings i’ll defiantly become A Writer..Ahah!! As Elif Shafak
    Recalls: Young minds were very eager to become writer in the future!

  2. Usama Malick says

    Thank you very much for reading my work Maria!

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