READING CAN SAVE THE WORLD?—PART 2
Updated: Mar 26
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WHY READING BOOKS IS CRITICAL FOR INDIVIDUALS, SOCIETY AND HUMAN KIND
Reading a good book can not only be fun, but it can also be incredibly stimulating and inspiring for the reader. And of course, there's a lot that you can learn from reading a good book, too.
But it's the little things one does on a daily basis that can really catapult the shaping of the mind, habit, character, behavior, and yes — destiny. Reading as a habit — and reading a variety of books regularly — is one of those few actions that can not only bring compounded benefits for an individual, but if ingrained into the behavioral fabric of large groups of people, can have a tremendous impact on well-being and prosperity of society as a whole.
Be it a child, or and adult, like a balanced food diet is needed to maintain a healthy body, a balanced reading habit is needed (as the first of many other things as well), to shape and maintain the healthy mind and attitude. Everyone should have a healthy reading habit!
This article explores the many benefits of reading, and why it is critical for individuals, society, countries and the world we live in today. If you read Part 1, let's jump right into it and answer the next question...
Click here to check out Reading Can Save the World? —Part 1
What makes reading such a critical activity for society as a whole?
So, why books? What is it about books? What makes reading such a critical activity for society as a whole? And why read, when today, you can just sit back and watch? We’re already reading tons of things all day every day , from billboards to snarky messages on t-shirts to scrolls and scrolls of news feeds (or propaganda and junk disguised to make you feel informed so you can tell yourself you have an opinion?), to text after text on our phones. Is reading that big a deal when we do it all day, already?
But it is!
And here’s my super-mondo-brave assertion: Reading is a more relevant habit today than it ever was in times before — so relevant —that I’d wager it is the one activity or action that can preserve freedom in all freedom-loving nations, and indeed ensure the continued existence of human life.
Is there really a connection between a thinking-well-read population
and a thriving, free, and peaceful world?
But we’re talking about reading books and material that feed our minds and most importantly — stimulates thinking. And that’s just it. We’re not talking about the generic consumption of random textual information. We’re talking about reading books. Books of fact AND books of fiction — and a good variety of them.
Another “brave” assertion I’m going to make is that not everything that’s “fast” is good for you. Now, there’s no arguing that “saving time” and “making things convenient” are the two main drivers of virtually all human social behavior today, This is especially true in the transaction based world we now live in. Think about it: the only thing cooler than thinking of a hot steaming bowl of fried rice (or your favorite meal), and it appearing instantaneously in front of you, is thinking about the fried rice, pressing a button, and then having it delivered to your doorstep and in your hands in a matter of 30 minutes or so. And this is so only because the former is currently not an option. But the day it does become possible, rest assured it will forever snatch away the idea of the “delivery boy” and a whole section of the logistics management industry (and maybe some jobs too). Point is that the “time” between being stimulated by the environment, and moving to an emotion-based reaction is now negligible. That’s why it’s all too common to see a headline that strikes a chord and churns up a hurricanes of emotion that then compel one to react. This headline could very well be an ad for the “hippest” new gadget on the market or a “news” piece on the latest “oppressive injustices” meted out to “your” tribe.
Here’s the point: This type of behavior is a learned one. And slowing time down (or even putting it on pause) to allow for thought, reflection, getting yourself together and then acting, is also a matter of learning. And here’s where the activity of reading (and picking up on new learning) is vital.
"Think before you speak. READ before you think!" — Fran Lebowitz
Putting ideas and thoughts down on paper so they can be preserved and accessed at another time and place is indeed one of the tenets of human language and communication. And what is a book if not a compilation of stories, ideas, thoughts, perspectives, knowledge, observations that are different from our own. Reading is the one first step in ensuring your own continued growth.
A healthy reading habit can help us think, keeps us informed, and prepares us for change. It can even transform people, override negative habits, prevent crime and keep minds engaged.
In Adults, opinions and attitudes once formed seldom change. That is unless that change is driven through awareness and focus (or a catastrophic external event), and reading books can help facilitate the overall change process.
However, given that learning itself has an element of time to it, it’s clear that the practice of reading needs to be consistent and made a habitual practice.
The practice of reading and maintaining a healthy reading diet is the one way to meet the pressures of change head on. And collectively, an informed and critically thinking people who read will reflect attitudes and behaviors accordingly. Reading is vital to the development of a critically thinking population tasked with choosing and designing their own future. And an informed, a well read and critically thinking public is the only surefire way to ensure continued freedom, justice, and liberty for all.
What happens when we don’t read?
Without reading, and without the continued,intelligent assimilation of new know-how, we’re bound to remain as we are — unchanging, watching the world pass us by as we are being swept away in the currents of our environment and the tides of our times, and above all, in our own reality.
Victor A. Davis — writer, programmer, and backpacker, answered the question “what happens when you don’t read?” on Quora.com; I found his answer spot on and just had to include it here:
This is what Davis has to say to the question: what happens when you do not read?
"Nothing. You stay the same. Things happen in the world that scare you. People do things that surprise you. You feel things from time to time that are unique to you, that certainly nobody has ever felt before. Things that taste good to you today are probably the only things you will ever taste. You will never know what the word “alacrity” means. You will never know who Humbert Humbert is. You won’t hear about that earthquake that killed people in Indonesia because the news decided that the president’s early morning tweet was more important. You may not even know that Indonesia is a different country than India. You’ll never know about any investment strategies other than the one your financial planner implements for you. You will likely vote for legislators who pass laws that hurt you. You might die at a younger age because of a general unawareness of alternate diets, alternate medical procedures, and proper safety. You will never fly a plane.
Most unfortunately, you will miss out on some of the sweetest, most beautiful and mind-blowing concepts people have ever dreamed up.
“The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the fellow who can't read a line.” ~Mark Twain “
You can find more of Victor Davis here.
We’re well into the age of the electron, and the time when the action of one can impact the lives of many is already here. In this age on instant gratification and instant action – unthinking instant reaction is NOT an option. Imagine populations of people like the above as described in Davis’s writing. How far can they go individually and collectively? What dangers would they face? How much of a chance would they have to happiness, growth, prosperity? And most of all – what about the children?
Indeed, we are seeing the impact of this playing out the world over. Polling, voting, voicing of opinions, protesting, taking a stand, they are all affected by the ideas of individuals and therefore the individual has to bare their responsibility of staying sharp, educated (even if not literate) and thinking at all times.
The need to read is urgent, and it is now.
At this point, to conclude, let me bring back something that I mentioned right in the start (and throw in twist, perhaps).
Let's try this again... Imagine a world without books!
Imagine a world where there are no books. Imagine a world full of people, and cars, and buildings, and buses, and factories on the horizon, and fruits sold in cans and everything else. However, no books — no books at all. Not a single one. How utterly bland an existence it would be to live in such a world. If this “hell’ were actually real and if I lived in it, I’d imagine the worst book of them all would still bring me miles and miles (and miles) closer to happiness than if there were no book at all. But what is a book but a physical (or digital blah-blah) compilation of someone else’s ideas, and thoughts, and perspectives. Therefore, in other words, the worst book of them all (where I get to peek into another person’s mind) is still better than being imprisoned in my own forever.
Think about it!
Now, as stated before, there are caveats of course. Reading is intellectual consumption after all, and there’s nothing like a poor (or worse) a ”one-thing-only-diet” to ensure you get the food your stomach craves but not all the balanced nutrition your entire body requires. To that end, reading a variety of books is equally critical, and as often as possible, too (more on that coming up on the Kreative Learner Blog).
Ultimately, the raison d'etre — if you will — for WHY the humble book and the practice of reading is probably the one thing that can ensure the happiness, growth and sustenance of individuals and society is that:
A: It informs and helps people come out of their own little dungeons of perceived reality
B: it holds frozen the thoughts of someone else (facilitating time travel in that sense) and transcends the need to be present when a word is spoken
C: And most importantly, reading books help facilitate human connection offering a virtually permanent record and a window into the mind of another human being — and indeed — their soul; thus, ultimately helping us discover our own.
What do you think about this post? Is reading that important for individuals? Is reading that necessary for society and the world as a whole? Post your comments below or send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to explore this topic further? Check out the articles below for insights, to-dos, and more information...
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