I just came across this quote by Gandhi, which rang so very true…
You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
— Mohandas Gandhi
Now, I’m not going to go on a rant on how some group of people conspired against the Arab world to get them to not read books and thereby destroy our culture; I’m not really in the conspiracy theory mood right now.
But what is more important is how true the direct relation between not reading and the destruction of a culture really is; and how it is one of the main reasons behind the decline of Arab culture.
It is an obvious fact that we Arabs don’t read like we used to: apart from a very few who read a healthy amount of books yearly, the majority rest barely go through one book a year, if not none at all.
There are book fairs all around the Arab world, and they’re always full of people, but by just taking a closer look at what books are being bought, you can know who is actually a good reader, and who is buying books to decorate their bookshelves or just as general references.
But what makes books and reading them so important?
I’ve found another quote that says it all so beautifully…
From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world’s life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind’s own powers of reflection and judgment are exercised and strengthened.
— Helen E. Haines
It is through books that we come to a better understanding of life; the past, present and future; and ourselves. It is also through books that our minds are opened, inspired and pushed to think, evaluate and innovate.
Books simply unlock our brains to their full potential; the more we read the more areas and doors we unlock, the more we take away, the more we have a clearer view of all that is around us, and the more we can be a factor in changing it.
By reading, we take the big step from being passive consumers to active thinkers, paving the way for us to become proactive creators, therefore pushing our culture and civilization a couple of steps forward.
Our local governments invest so much to get children into schools and reduce the illiteracy rates all over the Arab world, and in some countries these efforts have been very successful; but it’s not enough for people to be able to read and write, the aim should be to get them to actually do those things: read and write.
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.
— Mark Twain