How I met “reading” (part1)

Barney: True story.

~How I met your mother (TV series)

My love for reading might be a little hard for some people to fully understand, even for people who actually love it just like I do. Naturally those who don’t like it don’t get it because they don’t know what they’re missing. But most of those who  share it’s love probably have had it for a very long time that they don’t know what it’s like not to have it. To me it resembles the story in Genesis where man is fascinated by woman after living so much without her and feeling so lonely until he finally meets an equal partner [1]. In fact, it’s very similar to my story, because the day I met reading is the day I got reintroduced to humanity and culture in the flesh.

It all started in 2011 when a huge change happened in my country. It blew my mind how everything and everyone had changed over the night. It’s like I woke up one morning to find myself in a totally different place and living among very different people. Everyone was praising the very few who induced this change for never ceasing to fight for their dream of change until it finally came true [2]. Ironically, everyone -myself included- was against those few people just a night before! Strangely enough, I wasn’t aware of this irony until months later. I was literally part of a herd of cattle lead by the media –or whoever controls it. But how couldn’t I be? I wasn’t a reader back then, and the media was my window to the world. This wasn’t a coincidence. Children in my country are systematically taught to hate reading and thinking for yourself. It’s not like teachers say it explicitly. It’s way more subtle and embedded into society, that teachers themselves don’t even know they’re doing it! After all, how could they? They’re merely training their students with what they have been indoctrinated with their whole life. It’s a disease – a cultural disease- that has dwelled in the region for decades

Unfortunately, the dream of change didn’t live very long, and it was only a matter of months before everything was falling apart once again. That was one of the rudest awakenings of my adult life. I was furious how people had come to abandon the values of justice and democracy on their very first test. It was the time of my political activity in my life.

During that time, I was studying in my last year of college (5th year) and I had way forgotten all about my school teachers (gladly) [3]. But thanks to Facebook, I got the opportunity to get reunited with one particular teacher who has always been so unique. It was an encounter that would change my life forever. He has been working as journalist in another Arab country, and he seemed very different than the funny secondary school teacher who used to teach us Arabic which he used to be. It was like meeting a very different person. He was very sophisticated and his writings showed extremely advanced intellectual depth unlike anything I had read before. His harsh criticism towards the revolution and its supporters –him and me included- was enlightening, and was when I first learned true self-criticism.

This is part of our first conversation:

March 15, 2011

– Me (as a reaction to one of my posts on which he had commented): Indeed our country is now new, but the question is: “is it now better or worse?” In my opinion it’s now better, not because everything is going well [which it wasn’t], but because we now have more possibilities to have a BETTER country over the long run. I’m very optimistic 🙂

March 30, 2012 (more than a year later)

– Mr. M: These articles might be a little bit hard to understand in some parts .. I’m sending them to you and to anyone who would like to read. If you find any problems, tell me (he attached a file including a large collections of his published articles)

– Me: I promise you that I’ll try to read them –specially the short ones- especially that I’m currently focused on learning and understanding
Thank you for your concern

After that, I started discussing parts of his articles with him and I was amazed by the amount of understanding and historical knowledge that he demonstrated.   It struck me that he had more of these than almost of all our public political figures combined together! It was very important that I had met him at this point in my life, because it was the point at which I figured out that almost everything that I had learned was useless, and I sincerely wanted to learn and quench my thirst for true knowledge. (The cup was now ready to be refilled)

Our conversations continued till it reached a turning point –for me at least. He sent me an initial version of a book he was planning to publish which included the previously mentioned collection of articles. The introduction included a line that stood shining in front of me. Frankly, I couldn’t really proceed with reading without getting back to it every few lines. I copied the line, and pasted in our Facebook conversation so that we could start a conversation about it:

A society that doesn’t read gives you a golden opportunity for talking about it in absentia according to your own desire. For no one will hold you accountable for a curriculum or for the correctness of a piece of information.  It also grants you an opportunity to circumvent it to affiliate yourself to it again describing yourself as “a different person”, even without knowing how to clearly justify that difference.

~ The absent confession (yet to be published), by M N

P.S. In order to avoid posting overlong entries, I continue this story in another entry.

1- I think that even the Catholic Church could agree with us that given what we know today about human evolution and genetics, this story can be nothing but an ancient myth. Nevertheless, I really do enjoy much of its “symbolism”

2- Today most of them are either outcasts or behind bars

3- I’ll explain in future posts why I hate that school so much, and why I believe my teachers had very much to with that hatred

2 responses to “How I met “reading” (part1)

  1. Pingback: Why (adverb): For what reason, cause, or purpose | A Universe from Words

  2. Pingback: How I met “reading” (part2) | A Universe from Words

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