I, of course, took this to mean that the gentleman in question would have disagreed with John Donne’s “No Man is an Island”:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Him: How does the Iraq war actually affect your life?
Me: When I watch the news, it pisses me off. I get upset.
Him: All right, so it makes you feel upset.
Me: Well, yeah.
Him: Why do you watch the news, then, if it upsets you?
Me: Because I feel cut-off if I don’t.
Him: So, for you, it’s more important for you not to feel cut off, even if it does upset you?
Me: … yeah.
Now, some of you might be wondering two things: (a) Why is this connection between feelings and actions important? and (b) Why am I telling you about it?
First of all, the neuro-linguist’s point was that none of us does things because we think it’s a good idea. We do things because we feel like doing them. I know it would be a good idea to eat less sugar. However, I often feel like eating sugar, so I do it even though I know it’s not good for me. It’s only because I feel like working out that I do it. Battered wives know it’s a bad idea to stay with an abusive husband, but they feel hopeful that the husbands will change. Feelings, not knowledge or beliefs, determine actions.
And the reason that I’m sharing this with you is this: I read because I feel like it. I enjoy the reading process, I enjoy thinking and talking about it afterwards, I enjoy the feeling of knowing I’ve read one of the most important books/poems/plays in western history. The reason other people don’t read is that they don’t enjoy it–they don’t get any feelings of satisfaction. If anything, they feel bored or frustrated.
My point is this: rather than sharing more reading-is-good-for-you-and-television-is-bad-for-you facts, I (and you) should try to encourage positive feelings in those who do read. We shouldn’t reward children for reading–reading itself should be considered a reward, an indulgence, a treat. The problem is that this is probably mostly effective for children, since you can’t go around giving positive reinforcements to adults without sounding at least a little bit condescending. Anyone have any ideas as to how to encourage other people to feel like actually picking up a book?____________________________________________________________________