Back in the days, not only dreaming of being a writer or an author but also if one spoke of some contents from a book he/she read would make him/her one of the most admired and stylish members of the literate society of whatever age. Being a writer and a critical reader used to be a privilege. The way of knowing people’s perspective about the past and the future is reading the wisdom of wise people who seriously observe the ways of peoples’ life styles.
These days things seem to have changed in a way that poses threat to the intellectual wellbeing of the young generation. That must shake the entire scholar’s society but the reality seems to be the reverse. I only see few scholars trying to promote initiatives that encourage reading.
When we are living in a time of technological boom and we can get access to every knowledge simply with a single tap on our smartphones, many young people incline to limit their interests only on entertainments, even worse on the bad ones and ignore the value of books or reading.
Everyone is indulging in the so called social media which false stories and bad rumours are taking over. Of course, there are constructive media outlets that tips the youth with significant information on the social media but they are outnumbered by the destructive ones.
People are spending too much time chatting and posting pictures on social media and never seem to find an hour for reading. Everywhere, I go people are chatting. I don’t see what they are doing closely but I know when they are chatting when they smile or crinkle their faces without noticing people would watch. I wonder how they communicate and where they get new ideas to discuss without reading. The day today life bases of course could bring new issues to discuss but that only be about who did what, I did this and that and then too many lolls and emojis after each full stop. Isn’t that a boring staff to do all the time? I’m just asking?
How can we chat a lot if there are no books in it? Of course, there could be too many Tv shows and famous people to talk about. But true knowledge is always abundantly found on books and the time gives us an opportunity of having digitized books. But we seem to be ignoring what’s important and grabbing the harmful products of technology. And we are forgetting ourselves.
This reminds me a story of a famous Ethiopian writer. An older brother was telling his little brother the story of Axum, which was ones was the greatest civilization and empire in the world. He told the little brother about the great rock hewn obelisks of Axum and asked him what he thinks of them. The little brother, who has no idea about the precious historical value that the obelisks have, would simply say “I think the obelisks being built from single structure of rock indicates that there had been a shortage of stone at that time.”
It couldn’t be the little boy’s mistake to have misunderstood his own historical wealth and undermine it. It could rather be the fault of the community he grew up in.
In this case, I believe religious institutes need to discharge their responsibility given to participate in building schools and shaping the ethics of children from the start. Religious institutes are the places where we can find our roots of early civilization. They are given the mandate to build schools but only few seem to have built. Most of them seem to have engaged in business activities like building multi storey houses and stores and renting them for companies or individuals. This is not really religious.
Somehow, nobody else has to tell an educated young generation of this era that it is necessary to grab a book. Our great grand fathers were not educated when they grabbed a goat skin and mad books to pass the wisdoms they learned from life and nature to generations.
Reading could be the answer to most of those who are wasting their time searching the meaning of life while they are breathing it or those who couldn’t find themselves while they are not lost. The only loss is not having interest to reading.
BY HENOK TIBEBU