In the paradox of the century, the age of information through the Internet, so-called smart technology and instant communication has actually created a more stupider generation than those of its antiquated past. The reason is simple: we just don’t read anymore, and it’s affecting more than our professional fields. America’s apathy is placing our entire country at stake.
Before texting addictions became a national epidemic, before TV was the permanent new member of the family, or before the Internet became a staple of life, folks young and old would read. Books. From the library. (Imagine that.)
President Harry Truman read all the books in his home library by age 14.
I’ve seen that library and can tell you there are at least 250 books gracing its rustic shelves.
Staffers and members of the press used to joke at the wide array of books President Theodore Roosevelt would read.
He once took a bathroom break during a train ride across America and was gone so long one of the attendants began to worry. After knocking on the lavatory he found the president engrossed in a book on the geography of America’s Great Plains. He wasn’t caught with his pants down, he was caught with his nose in a book.
Going even further back in time, there is, of course, the impressive Thomas Jefferson library, seen today in only a fraction of its original glory.
Most of it burned in devastating fires during his own lifetime. He read in at least two different languages and owned books spanning nearly every imaginable topic.
I’m not trying to pull a Laura Bush, or tell you world peace will be solved if you read more, but if you want to go places and make a difference, begin by educating yourself.
Instead of reading news articles, we watch reality television (I must admit I am guilty of watching a few shows – Millionaire Matchmaker cracks me up every time). The world is at our fingertips, yet people log in to Facebook to catch up on who’s status’ are causing the greatest buzz that day. Why we care if Joe Brown just told the Facebook world that he trimmed his toenails is beyond me, but somehow it’s more interesting than the European Union declaring water as an inadequate means of hydration, a bizarre decision that will go largely unnoticed by most Americans. … Bring on the toenail pictures.
There is some hope, though. Americans are waking up, and it isn’t coffee people are smelling: it’s the stench of a government sinking its talons into education, energy, entrepreneurship, the freedom to fly the flag, the right of defending itself, the familial structure … the list could blow up an Internet server with its monstrosity. People are making the effort to meet and discuss the fundamental values this country was built on, and how they can re-establish them before it’s too late. They’re doing this not by reviewing episodes of Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” or anything else, but by READING.
Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more potent our actions become when rehabilitating this country. Obama would prefer us to lazy and soft. He’d prefer us blinded to all that moves behind his smoke and mirrors. But taking the initial strike can prevent us from being blind-sided again in 2012. We must arm ourselves with knowledge!
We need to read the U.S. Constitution. Again. And again. We need to read the Federalist Papers, the letters sent between George Washington to other Founding Fathers, and from the Founding Fathers to the First Congress. We must study America’s presidential histories, and after reading we must then discuss what we’ve learned with others. Instead of hours spent on cyber chatrooms debating whether a desperate housewife spent her husband to bankruptcy or not is time we could be spending pouring over reading material in a coffee shop with friends.
The job of legislative oversight belongs to our elected officials, but they’ve failed that job. It’s up to we the people to read legislation, old and new, and decide what it means in our lives. More Americans read the 2,000+ page health care overhaul of 2010 than did members of Congress. That kind of battle must be waged in order to protect our freedoms.
Let the reading begin.