Tuesday, October 6, 2015
What Readers Can Do
Readers of books can benefit themselves and society in immeasurable ways. But they can also lead to self-destruction and an attack on the world. Books, like anything else, can be a building tool for greatness, or a hammer for chiseling a monster.
You probably can’t imagine books being used in bad ways, but how about these:
1. People misunderstand a book’s message and use it to do harm.
2. A book offers incorrect or bad advice that subsequently is followed to the detriment of a reader.
3. The politics expressed in a book incites someone to support harmful political views.
4. A book turns someone onto following a cult.
5. A novel leads the reader to act out what should only be a fantasy.
6. Books of science or history report the wrong facts or share incorrect information, which is then embraced by the reader who acts out of ignorance.
7. A book champions a dangerous point of view that leads people to act in a misguided way.
8. A book encourages risky behavior.
9. A book offers just one side to a complex issue and fails to give a complete picture to someone seeking to take action.
10. A book is so poorly written or edited that it confuses the reader.
I love books but I realize that a book could be a vehicle to do harm. There are books on peace and there are books on how to make bombs. There are books about love, and there are manuals on how to commit crimes. There are books espousing wonderful philosophies about unity and there are books that spew hatred, prejudice, and revenge. The reading public, the news media, and responsible authors, publishers, and educators must work together to create and promote books of quality while disavowing books that harm us. Free speech must always win and allow for the publishing of all types of books, but a strong society must counter what it finds to be dangerous or objectionable with protests, awareness campaigns, and a resilience for promoting truth and good values.
So readers can do a lot. They can read books and become educated, enlightened, inspired, and entertained. They can also read something and take violent actions or work in opposition of a loving society. Readers need to be smart about what they read, how they read, and what they choose to believe.
Do we really teach people how to read a book, in terms of how uncovering clues about what’s being said, how it’s being said, what’s missing, and what could be another way at looking at things? It doesn’t matter what’s published or written. What really matters is what people choose to read and their capacity to understand and act – or not act – on what they read.
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