On Reading Right

Published on Feb 8, 2019

Good reading is good listening and I ain't been reading right.


I'm aiming to read an absurd amount, in large part because I think I must. No one has told me I must, but I think that in order to become a rounded out human being I must learn the history of race in America, from the perspective of authors of races different than mine. I think that's kind of noble on one hand, but at the same time, if I'm reading because I have to, if I'm reading to "figure out" how to stop social injustice, I think I'm off base.


My friend Will didn't quite call me on this, but he spoke of the danger of learning for a set purpose. Is it even learning if you know what you want to learn when you start?


What I realized is that I'm perpetuating the same injustice I want to learn about if I learn in order to "fix" social problems. It's in fact disrespectful to the authors I read if I'm only reading them to find a "solution" they missed.


Learning (even about other cultures and social issues) is more about the exploration than the destination. By exploring the stories and thoughts of other authors, without trying to end up at a particular destination (in this case a "fix" for social ills), I give their stories space and respect.


This is not to say this process of "exploration" is fun or even easy. It's not.


Exploration is not a fluffy way of getting out of hard learning, but it is a way to respect and honor those you learn from along the way.