Busted. Reading in the middle of the night. I’ve said this before but reading is a free education and one that most of us should take more advantage of. Less screen, more page. The truth is Americans, not all but many, do not have a solid sense of history. I think this is one of the primary reasons we find ourselves in the toxic cultural and societal situation we do. People just don’t know the past and how that past influences the present.
I was watching this situation in Venezuela unfold and my mind began to think of Latin American countries where the United States has both legally and illegally become involved. Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua to name a few. (The CIA has been busy.) Regardless of what’s happening in Venezuela, we have had our sticky fingers in the rest of these locations going back many decades. Why? Money, power, resources and geopolitical chess.
I find that a significant portion of the American public went to school, either high school or college and upon graduation, they took off their learning cap and stopped educating themselves. As a product of American public school, I can say with one hundred percent certainty had I limited my education to this standard formula I would know virtually nothing about how the world works and I certainly would not have a well-rounded knowledge of actual world history. And I’m not claiming I’m a history expert, but I know more than many it seems.
As a sick test, I’ve been asking people I barely know about all kinds of things. “Hey, what do you think about…X.” The responses have been astounding. Well, astoundingly bad for the most part. The Latin America thing draws an almost one hundred percent blank, and when I very slowly introduce the idea that we’ve meddled in the past, the response has been vehement denial and finger pointing about me being “anti-American.” Which I’m not. I love this place. And just know, we’re better than you. (GloboGym Promo)
Reading is a GREAT way to get that knowledge back, or gain it in the first place. So many people are glued to the screen, and I get it. The screen is easy. The screen isn’t challenging. The screen is like a warm, easy, lazy blanket. It’s always there. You can pound a twelve pack and there is the screen. You can take fourteen bong hits and still crawl to the screen. You can huff paint and take bath salts and still eat your screen. You get it.
Reading takes what we all fear. Concentration. Focus. Long-form thought. Uh oh. Deep breath. Perhaps it is this mental workout we need more than anything else? A few months ago I read a book called Into the Silence, which I posted here. A GREAT book, and a detailed one. But I’m now reading another book about the same topic. This one isn’t great. But it’s super dense and I have added even more background to what I gained before. What the book is discussing now is actually influencing what I’m seeing in the news today. Without these books, I would never be able to connect these dots.
One last thing. Reading shouldn’t feel like a chore. In fact, when you start to gain knowledge with this knowledge comes inherent power. Having this power is FUN. It really is.
I’ve always enjoyed meeting people who ask me, “Do you know about such and such?” I answer “Ahh, no.” “Well do you know about so and so?” they ask. “Ah, nope, don’t know them either.” And then I go home and look at these things up. The vast majority of the time these people are readers. It’s a big difference from meeting someone who asks “Hey, did you see the latest episode of such and such.” I love the screen too, so I’m no purist, but I have to say, the book is far more valuable in the long run. And the short run.
And just when you think your reading has elevated you to party snob, pseudo-intellectual, just watch Jeopardy and get knocked back to reality.
Books, continually learning, diversified knowledge is a good way to go about life. The more I read the more I realize I know nothing the more I want to read. It’s the best way to learn. I don’t believe you can learn reading top 12 list blog posts or top 22 events that changed the world or 7 things you didn’t know about the human brain. You need all the meaty stories that lies in between which you can only get in books.
Anyhow, great post. I agree 100%… reading is the one thing I do if I can’t sleep at night. Too bad I’m a slow reader.
Ya, I knew we were in trouble when all those list posts began to arrive. I totally agree.
Talking about Latin America and our dubious involvement there, I imagine you have heard about or read General Butler’s ‘War Is A Racket’ speech/book. If not, this old Marine recommends it to you! 🙂
Thanks for the suggestion. I have NOT read this thing. Will check it out now. Just read about Plan Colombia….
Hmm tell people to google Spanish American War and United Fruit 😉
Good call. That one is legendary.