Saturday, April 2, 2016

Isis vs. Radicalized Readers

Every day we read about “Radicalized Muslims” and of those who became terrorists.  I would love to hear, instead, about radicalized readers and book buyer extremists.  Where are the intellectuals and smarties when you need them?

Ignorance breeds radicalism.  How many scholars, Pulitzer winners, or Poet Laureates became terrorists? I assume none. Why? Because literacy, education, and the pursuit of intellectual curiosity should lead you away from thinking of how to kill people and destroy the world, and instead towards uncovering how to create or be a part of a life-nurturing, world-affirming solution to our problems.

I know it’s not just dumb people who participate in war, terrorism, or even street gangs, but I also know that if we get more people picking up more books more often, we have a significantly greater chance of  averting violence and pursuing a life dedicated to peace, love, and democracy.

So how do we create a book nirvana, a radicalized nation of readers?

Let’s take a playbook move from the other side who convince people of anything. You have to create a vision, give them a mission, and convince them there’s no other way to live the way that you hope to.  So, we need to spell out a vision, assign each person a mission, and convince them there’s no other way to live in this world except through books.

I’m envious how groups like ISIS can recruit people and convince them to not only kill other but to be willing to kill themselves.  Why can’t we convince people to take up books and arm themselves with knowledge that helps others, including themselves?

Think about it, even if it’s an absurd comparison, but that with terrorists you have a group with limited resources and organizational support that finds a way to convince others to join it.  Here, we have a government, entertainment industry, publishing industry, school system, library system and all kinds of advertisers encouraging literacy, reading more books, and taking learning to a higher level.  

But even with all of these public pro-book pronouncements, non-profit campaigns, positive messages in our media, reinforced reading in school, and supportive parents at home, we still have tens of millions of adults who are not literate. We have more than one in four adults who say they didn’t read a single book this past year.  You have a nation of people too busy, too distracted, too overscheduled to actually spend time reading books that could inform, inspire, enlighten, and entertain.

The odds are stacked in society’s favor -- to recruit more readers – but ISIS only needs a handful of recruits to do deadly damage.  We can’t rest until we’ve converted every person into a reader.  Our lives may depend on it.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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