If there is one thing modernity could use, it’s more good readers.
People are taught to read at a young age. One of my earliest memories is being proud at being to read a whole book. Looking back on it, I think I was proud because it was something that I was told to do. I took every chance I could to show it off to as many adults in my life as possible. They showered me with praise for accomplishing something that most children aren’t able to do until they are much older.
Being only 3 or 4, it goes without saying that it was one of those books you find only in pre-school classes and in households with young children; it was a book with many pictures, text that rhymed, and large print.
It’s odd, when you are that young, memories are devoid of concrete facts. They only exist as distinct impressions. I’m fairly certain that I did not actually read the book. Sure, I had said all of the right words at the right time, but the symbols on the pages meant nothing.
I thought I had fooled all of the adults. It had been read to me so many times that I had only memorized what to say when the pictures were shown. Looking back on it, I probably was fooling no one. The adults could probably see beyond my trick.
As we grow older, we are given more books to read with more words, less pictures, and smaller text. However, not much else changes. Many people ever learn how to read properly. They are only looking at the “pictures” and telling others what they expect to hear.
When you read something, you are essentially on a journey through another person’s thought path. Much like most things in life, the easiest thing to do is to just follow along. If someone asks your opinion on it, you can always just regurgitate what the author said and change a few words It is much harder to take those thoughts and turn them into your own.
If something you read does not sit well with you, ask yourself why. If you feel you are right, let yourself be heard. Disagreement is the sign of a free thinker. If you find yourself agreeing with everything someone says, it is no different than following his every command. The difference between master and slave starts in the mind.
Bad writers set out to preach. They seek to enslave the reader’s mind. Behind every “thou shalt” lies an cowardly author. He thinks lowly of you, so think lowly of him.
Good writing frees the reader’s mind. It encourages reflection. Only through reflection can an idea become your own. The wise doubt all things before they believe them. Without reflection, reading is nothing besides cold, dead thoughts.