“I truly believe, that the only way to peace, is through reading, knowledge, and education.”
Nobel Prize laureate
In recent times, Malala Yousafzai’s voicing of the importance of education has become a global beacon for progress. When she survived an assasiation attempt on her life by the Taliban, not only did it strengthen her desire to learn more, but it made her voice on the matter stronger. Malala highlighted the importance of literacy and knowledge, striving to encourage young girls in her native Swat Valley in Pakistan to seek out education, as well as helping impoverished children around the world attain the privilege of being able to learn in a classroom setting. Something as simple as reading and learning, something that so many of us take for granted, people overseas are willing to die for. Are reading and education as powerful as tools as Malala makes them out to be? I would say yes.
Less than a year ago, as an act of curiosity, I began visiting the book section of a local thrift shop. Books that had been discarded were avaliable for less than a dollar each. I would buy a new book every Saturday. From that time I first started my thrift shop book trips, three particular purchases stand out in my memory: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Gordon W. Allport’s The Nature of Prejudice, and an anthology of slave narratives, including The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The Narrative of Olaudah Equiano aka Gustavus Vassa. Those books not only opened my eyes to my potental as a Black man, but gave me insight to the world around me, my own history, and the small ways I can better myself and contribute to the positive energy of this world. (I’ll expand on these ideas in future entries.)
Months after I had purchased those books, I purchased and started reading Russell Simmons’ Do You!, a book on self-improvement and self-empowerment. One wouldn’t expect a business mogul mostly known for contributions in hip-hop and fashion to offer intellectual and spiritual insight, but he did. Between speaking on incorporating meditation as part of a daily routine and speaking on taking initiative in your own life, Simmons’ book was a genuine eye-opener. His pearls of wisdom became embedded into my own life. I started incorporating his advice into my day-to-day with positive results. The more I read these books, among other influential books I would purchase, the more I started to transform my daily grind into a personal journey to better myself and share positivity with the people around me. I give God thanks for my spirit of perseverence. And it all started when I took a chance and began to read and learn, remembering Malala’s words that were quoted above.
Something as simple as reading the right book can open a person’s mind. It’s easy enough to blindly follow whatever is on the television, but to open up a book and process the words printed inside is to allow your mind to be awakened. So many of us who are literate take this gift for granted. We settle with just living our lives day in, day out, without taking a small opportunity to open a book and learn something new. And it isn’t necessarily an expensive thing to do. People find books in the bargain racks on a regular basis and gain a wealth of information. Reading the right book can help gain insight to the unfamiliar, helping you understand perspectives and viewpoints beyond your own. To read, learn, and educate ourselves as well as educating each other is the key to understanding each other.
My advice for you is to go to any place that sells books, find a book that can possibly open your mind, and start reading. It can be a biography, a book on world cultures, maybe a book exploring human nature. Read it and learn from it, and share that information with gratitude. Also, encourage others to read. Sharing productive knowledge and ideas is a great way to encourage each other as people, the key word being “productive”. For anyone who wants to help promote literacy, find ways you can volunteer your time and help. It’s as simple as googling “literacy volunteering”. And keep learning. Don’t limit it to inside a classroom. Education is a blessing.
To learn more about Malala Yousafzai and her activism, please visit: