Friday, March 14, 2014

Why do we read?: Empathy

The title of the article says "Why should we read?" but my puzzle is, "Why do we read?". My daughter has become a bookworm and nicknamed, Kinko after a Kinjoro Minomiya who is famous as an intensive and extensive reader ( She was addicted to stories and always carry a book in her hand wherever she went before iPhone era. She still reads, but book addiction has shifted to online addiction. Some may argue she still reads a lot of texts online and it is just a matter of different platform to read- from Physical book to digital ones. But I have been wondering if it is the case. My heart tells me that these are absolutely different experiences. There is some kind of magic to the reading with physical books, but I couldn't say articulately what it is. This article with scientific researches did the job for me. It is the depth of reading. The simple paper and ink nothing else invites you to the world of stories, the collaborative work of storytelling with the author of the book. It takes your mind to live in the story. The simplicity of the physical books allows you to have the space to be as creative and imaginative as you can be. Within the space or the entity, you become a co-author of the story. But such reading takes some time and space to be immersed.  In the fast-paced and instant online world, the depth and freedom of the mind will most likely suffer in order to catch up the speed and distracted by so many other stimuli.

The human race has a fairly long history and evolved constantly. But for a simple minded person like myself, a deep thinking process requires simplicity of a physical book and inner dialogue with its author. Without such a deep thinking process, some feelings such as empathy that requires vivid imagination and sensitivity to all your senses can't be developed. Without empathy, your sentiments are paralyzed and become edgy and abusive at worst.

In the children's conversation, I often hear those abusive words are exchanged so casually and frequently. I wonder how you can feel someone else's aches  and how you can live in peace and harmony with others without empathy.

Yesterday I got one of bestseller books about a high school girl who transformed from F student to A+ and entered Keio university, one of prestigious academic institutions in Japan. On the journey from the bottom to the top, she met some inspiring literature and a teacher and realized her potential and acquired empathy. Now this book is in my daughter's hand who is standing at a crucial time of her life. I am sure this story resonates with her and inspires her to hear her true voice.

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