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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Obligation Of Readers


The value of information, when provided to others, is that it is acted upon. If the government learns of a terrorist plot, it takes action to foil it. If a doctor receives lab results of a patient indicating pre-diabetes exists, he seeks to treat the patient. If a parent learns her child is struggling with her class work, she talks to the school and seeks a solution.  But what about when book readers are given the facts, statistics, and cogent arguments of experts for the resolution of a major issue, such as curbing alcohol addiction, improving our diet, or decreasing gun violence? Once, as a reader, you take in this information, what can -- and should – you do as a result?

Can a reader merely take in the information and simply do nothing? They can, but should they/?Does a reader have any kind of moral obligation to act on what he or she comes to know?

You would think the reader should want to not just know what is wrong or learn of how to fix it, but to actually be a part of the solution, If the reader has additional questions or wants to challenge the book’s assumptions and findings, he or she should continue to explore the issue. Call a reliable source. Read more books on the topic. Discuss it with friends and family. Do not let your curiosity or ability to change the world just end when the book concludes.

Reading may seem like an isolated, passive, even entertaining activity, but it really is a step towards action, one that demands you put the book down, and forces you to be an advocate, a mentor, and a doer. If you have been given insights on how to make society a safer, smarter, healthier and more loving one, how could you not feel inspired and obligated to find a way to help/

Yet millions of us do this every day. We read books, blogs, newspaper accounts, and magazine articles that shout at us to do something. We can remain on the sidelines no more.

Knowledge can burden us. You cannot ignore what you now know. It is one thing to be unaware and oblivious to the world’s realities – and at least half of Americans in any given day are not reading books or newspapers and are not focused on the issues and problems of society. Instead, they read not to learn, but to escape. They bury themselves in fiction and pop culture – not that anything is wrong with that – but they fail to leave time to witness the world’s shortcomings.

Who can blame them? The world offers the beauty of life but also the tragedy of death and the many failures, shortcomings, heartbreaks, and physical aches that lead up to one’s ultimate demise.

Life experience should be enough to make us act with charity and kindness, but it doesn’t always. We have the capacity to open our hearts to many, but it is safer and easier to just distance ourselves from the ugly side of life.

Still, the educated reader has the burden to act. Action can be simplified: write a letter to Congress to advocate for something; donate five bucks to a cause; volunteer for an hour or two; cut a person a break; give someone a third chance; teach another to do what is right. Or you can take a bigger action step and really look to be a part of major changes. Maybe you create a business that solves a problem, or you run for local office, or you write books to rally others for change.

You have now read this blog. Before you let the digits of text evaporate into air, just let this message linger a little bit longer. Think of how you can turn towards the solution instead of ignoring the problem. Words mean only the value you give them. Was this blog a wasted guilt trip or can it leave you with a feeling of hope, empowerment, and change?

It’s your choice. Choose well.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

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