It makes me sad.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Lifetime learning is important. Reading is important.
Okay, I am about to preach to the choir. I KNOW that the people who are likely to read this blog post are readers, otherwise they wouldn’t be interested in anything I have to say. But I am going to say this anyway.
FIRST – Reading teaches empathy. It gives us practice getting into someone else’s head and POV, making us think about things that we might not have considered in our normal life, helping us view situations that we would never have otherwise experienced.
I have never been a black man. But by reading mysteries with EZ Rawlins and other characters, I’ve had the opportunity to be shown inside the thinking of a black man and to experience the prejudice that was a part of his everyday life. It gave me understanding that, I hope, made me more considerate than I might otherwise have been.
That’s just one example.
SECOND – Reading teaches us things. Okay, that sounds stupid. But bear with me.
When my son was very little (and I mean VERY, since he was reading before he ever got to kindergarten), we were talking in the car and he said he wanted to know everything. So I told him. “READ. If you learn to read, and read well, you can learn anything. Because everything we know is written down somewhere. And even if it is written in another language—someone’s written down how to learn that language. You want to know everything? The way to do it is to learn to read.” He hasn’t stopped since.
I believed it then. I believe it now.
THIRD – READING IS ENTERTAINMENT, cheap, accessible entertainment that doesn’t even require electricity. People were reading LONG before we had electric lights. And I sincerely hope we’ll be reading far, far into the future when the light bulb is just a quaint memory.
Can’t afford cable (or dish, or internet?). Find your way to the library. There, at your fingertips, is entertainment on the grand scale, available FREE FOR THE ASKING.
But I worry.
Because reading is becoming tres unfashionable.
Seriously, people are given shit for reading. Even with the turn of the culture and the rise of the geek, reading hasn’t “caught on.” I was told by a woman at my job that she was “stunned” people would pay me to write books because “she doesn’t have time to waste reading.”
Seriously? She has time to shop and cruise the internet. But reading, feeding the brain, is a waste of time? WOW. Just WOW.
We are supposed to take in our information in bits and bytes. We’re supposed to be VISUAL, soaking in flickering images from a screen. If we read, we’re to do it electronically.
There are studies that show how many people don’t crack a single book after they graduate high school; or college; or whatever.
It makes me sad.
It also scares the crap out of me.
People need empathy. Look at any of the news feeds and you can see that. People also need to get their information from multiple sources. (Including, my friend, Wikipedia). They shouldn’t trust a single news source as being unbiased. They should ask questions and keep learning.
Because the world doesn’t stop moving forward. Things change daily. You need to keep up. And reading, whether on the page, or on a flickering data screen, is the best and easiest way to do that.
People need to ask questions—not just be led blindly by the most charismatic, handsome guy or gal on the screen.
Hitler was charismatic. So was Stalin.
I may not love every bestseller that hits the top of the list. But it brings me joy that they do. Because it means that SOMEBODY is reading. And when something like the Harry Potter phenomenon hits, I crow with absolute delight. Because an entire generation of people remembered that reading is also, at it’s core FUN, EXCITING, and ENJOYABLE.
End of sermon. Stop reading this. Go, pick up a book.