Friday, March 12, 2010

Read a (good) book! Save the world!

I don't blog about newspaper articles - I don't write here enough to keep up with that sort of thing and plenty of others can do it better. But I can't resist highlighting this wonderful NY Times article. Elias Khoury, a Palestinian, has suffered at the hands of both Israelis and Palestinians in their intractable conflict. When the latest blow came, the murder of his son by Palestinians who mistook the young man for a Jew, Khoury responded. He paid to have a famous work of Israeli literature translated, believing that the more we read about each other the more we understand, and the better our chances at co-existence.

Separately, I read a report today detailing a study of tolerance in the Western Hemisphere. The authors attempted to determine the people's willingness to accept gay candidates, to recognize their right to go to office. In the end, the authors concluded that the one factor that made the greatest difference towards promoting that tolerance was not wealth, gender, or even age - it was education.

So - save the world. Read a book. Challenge yourself!

(To take my own advice: I recently won a contest where I received 3 free books. Those books arrived one by one at our house, and only after opening the third did I figure out the trend. They were all written by people of faith and were about their religious experiences. My diabolical heart sinks - I am not religious. At all. BUT, I have resolved to read at least one of these. I will get to know these people better!)

What books are you reading or have you read that have challenged the way you thought about others? Either fiction or non-fiction.


The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I recently read In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. I've been meaning to for years, but kept putting it off, afraid that I was going to be too affected by it. Strangely and unexpectedly I found myself so intrigued that I was looking up murder scene photos of the Clutter family on the Internet! It was fascinating, becasue I thought I would be physically ill reading about murders that weren't fictional, but I wasn't. It really put into perspective that people who commit such crimes also have hearts - attributes of their personality that one can sympathize with. Now this is a scary thought - feeling compassionate toward such people, but I guess, if I really think about it, reading about it in creative non-fiction form still keeps the reader at quite a distance from the content. But it is interesting, how well-written literature can make one feel more sorry for the murderers than the poor poor Clutter family.

Carrie C said...

That's an excellent example - wow. It is a challenge to consider how far we want to get into other people's heads, when those people are criminals. But that's still an aspect of humanity we should come to terms with, even while keeping it at arm's length. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

No problem! Another thing that comes to mind, when considering feeling compassion for people who we regard as compassionateless (if that's even a word), is how many people would actually be open to accept those feelings, or whether they would deny them in fear of someone passionately disagreeing with them. In all honesty, I sat staring at my comment for ages, considering whether it was the right thing to do! Then I thought, well, it's true, it came to mind as soon as you posed the question ... so why not. :)

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma