Monday, May 13, 2024

The Power of Reading Everything


In one of my more popular posts, I remarked on my late introduction to the wonders of literature. Some, having read it, were incredulous. Perhaps they were under the impression that anyone who wears the sort of thick-framed glasses that I do must, in fact, be an avid reader. But, alas, it was only a few years ago that I came to understand the unparalleled power of reading. 

It's absolutely imperative to note, though, that to really be a reader requires one, not just to read books by authors who are ideologically uniform, but rather, to read damn near everything.

I have, thus far, read books by libertarians, Marxists, liberals, post-liberals, neoconservatives, paleo-conservatives, moral relativists, feminists, environmentalists, and on and on. You come to realize - if you are reading the right authors, that is - that all of these ideologies offer something interesting to digest. 

Edward Said made me rethink my, and our, myopic and utterly reductionist understanding of the dynamic between the Occident and the Orient. 

Wendell Berry made me think twice before separating human welfare from land and animal husbandry. 

Theda Skocpol enhanced my understanding of the importance of civic participation. 

Patrick Deneen made me look at classical liberalism with a more critical eye. 

Amitai Etzioni strengthened my understanding of the common good. 

All of these writers are of wildly different political backgrounds. But they've all made me a far better thinker. If, conversely, I remained an uncritical inhabitant of an ideological echo chamber, I would be nothing more than a dogmatist, regurgitating meaningless platitudes. 

Don't be a walking bumper sticker; be a well-rounded thinker, unafraid of challenging your own paradigms. 

There's no question that I have my own biases and certain ideological-predilections, but I try my best every day to make myself almost uncomfortable, reading anything and everything worth reading. 



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