There have been more than a few reports outlining a decline of empathy, but did you know (or maybe forget that) reading literature can help you experience another person’s life through reading? A recent study found that it is true (wow, I actually wrote that sentence here and probably deserve some shame.. anyways…).
While the story in Psychology Today is centered on business, it must still be true that the stories we tell our children have impact. Read with them, and read them stories that help them see the world for what it is and can be.
If you are in financial distress and can’t see the immediate value, know that in addition, literature can provide a gateway to other humanities, which is leverage that help navigate the world. Earl Shorris, who recently passed away, and whose book, “The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor” will be published in 2013, said the following:
Numerous forces—hunger, isolation, illness, landlords, police, abuse, neighbors, drugs, criminals, and racism, among many others—exert themselves on the poor at all times and enclose them, making up a “surround of force” from which, it seems, they cannot escape. I had come to understand that this was what kept the poor from being political and that the absence of politics in their lives was what kept them poor. I don’t mean “political” in the sense of voting in an election but in the way Thucydides used the word: to mean activity with other people at every level, from the family to the neighborhood to the broader community to the city-state.
Read the whole article: Harpers: Earl Shorris: As a weapon in the hands of the restless poor”
We focus so much on teaching concrete skills in school, as a means to an end, to get a job, but having that as the lone purpose of education is a mistake. I don’t know where I’d be without the books I’d find myself reading way back when. I had thought they were a means to escape whatever was going on my life thru my imagination, and sure, they were, but it turns out they helped me immeasurably in every day life and still do to this day.