Readers Are Not Saints | Why The Act of Reading Does Not Absolve Anyone of Atrocity

Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! As avid readers, we all are fully aware of the benefits of literature to our character. But in all my readings of articles about readers (because I love affirming myself! HAHAHA) I have never come across one that balances the glowing “reviews” on being a reader. This post is brought to you by my realizations on the book twitter community!

The Benefits of Reading a Good Book: Brain Power, Empathy, Creativity
Source: juliepedraza.com

Readers are empathetic.

Readers are intelligent.

Readers are better.

You could absolutely trust the fact that any reader in your life are bound to have any of these qualities. But what most people fail to see is that, readers are also human and are bound to do atrocious acts. I’m not saying that readers have been dehumanized before rather, most of the time, readers are put in the glittery pedestal and all the others are segregated as mere subjects to them. This kind of perception deliberately positions readers to wield some sense of power aka knowledge. On the flip side though, this view also cultivates smart shaming from the “mere subjects”.

The point here is that, no matter which side you are in, readers are deemed to be better by the majority.

Now this is where I’ll attempt to debunk this thought. The term “reader” is often used so liberally by many people that the label itself came to connote an individual’s high intellect. The problem here is that, there are in fact, so many types of readers but not all of them are mindful readers.

G. M. Trevelyan quote: Education... has produced a vast population ...
Source: AZ Quotes

I’m not here to pit readers based on their taste because we all have the freedom to choose what we want to read. But we shouldn’t erase the fact that what we actively consume reflects our attitude and principles. Being a mindful reader doesn’t mean you have to only read self-help books, literary fiction, or the intimidating classics. To be a mindful reader, you have to know the implications of what you are reading and supporting; you have to be aware with the author’s intent and stances. Like they said:

“You cannot separate the art from the artist.”

RELATED: The Reading Diet Guide | How To Be Mindful Of What You Read

As book bloggers, we all have to have the awareness of the gravity of our influence in the community no matter how large or small your following is. The sad part here is that, some readers are unabashedly tone deaf when it comes to social issues especially when it involves oppression of a minority.

With all what’s happening in the world this 2020, from COVID19, the looming economic downfall of multiple countries, the ceaseless protests in Hong Kong to reclaim their democracy, the cries of black people for the justice of GeorgeFloyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement to topple white supremacy, the rage of Filipinos in opposition of the Anti-Terrorism Bill that strips off their freedom, the abuse and inhumane attacks inflicted on the Palestinians, and many more undocumented atrocities in the world, some readers and book bloggers instead chose to close their eyes and zip their mouths. Or worse, cry false tears and spew out “empathetic” nothings to support the cause.

We don’t need your empathy if you simply do it in AN attempt to maintain your image.

Readers are not saints, and just because you’re one does not absolve you of atrocity. Some people are fully aware of their influence and most of them mask their prejudices through the label of being a “reader”. Yes, we all have the opportunity to unlearn and relearn from our mistakes but we don’t have any room for performative activism. What we need right now is to amplify the voices of the oppressed and not counter their cries with that #AllLivesMatter mentality. To do so only trivializes the blatant oppression happening to them.

all houses matter: the extended cut – Chainsawsuit by Kris Straub ...
Source: Jesse Williams

Most readers often romanticize dystopian heroes and heroines yet in the face of real world oppression, we only get silence from them.

Being a reader in this modern age demands a responsibility to question the backwards views of our classics, to be aware of the power of literature to uplift diverse voices, and most importantly to wield our accumulated knowledge to spark conversations and to pay it forward, even if it’s only a small role to play.

David Mitchell Quote: “My life amounts to no more than one drop in ...

I hope this post won’t come across as too preachy! I myself am still learning the power of both my voice and my silence. To all the readers, out there, I hope that my words reach you.

19 thoughts on “Readers Are Not Saints | Why The Act of Reading Does Not Absolve Anyone of Atrocity

  1. Ok, I LOVE this post. I really can’t stand the idea that just because someone is a reader that means that they’re superior to everyone else. There are tons of readers out there who will read books with powerful and important messages and then consider it for about five minutes before moving on to something else. I used to be that kind of reader and I don’t want to be anymore because I want to use my privilege for good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post was really great to read and I loved the way you said everything as it covered a lot and it was just great to read. Reading books is one thing but it can’t change society that is something we are all responsible for and reading can teach you a lot but you have to implement and support real life change. I loved this quote “most importantly to wield our accumulated knowledge to spark conversations and to pay it forward, even if it’s only a small role to play.” I think it can be common for some to say ‘I’m not going to change anything, I’m just one voice’ but one voice is powerful, it’s your power that can change things around you and it can make someone else’s voice louder. GREAT POST, thank you for sharing !! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a beautifully written piece, Divine.

    I have to agree that not all readers are ‘mindful’ readers and that is something very visible in bookish groups and forums.

    I also agree that us, bookish bloggers, have the power to say something about the injustices & challenges the world is going through.

    This is not the time to be stagnant, but the time to use our platforms to raise awareness and entice action from our community.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post so much Divine! I especially agree with what you said about not being able to separate art from the artist, because do the artists not use their internalized perceptions to write / create the work they are producing? I see people supporting Harry Potter and works of other bigoted people to no end all the time, and it annoys me //so much.// Also I want to jump into a volcano every time the ‘all lives matter’ thing is uttered w/ support of it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha well thanks! I think you give me more praise than is warranted but I’ll take it. And I really do like your discussion/commentary posts like this. I wish more people would read them and think on them.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a fantastic discussion piece, Divine! I completely agree that we all need to take note of our influence and the weight our opinions carry within the community. Not to mention how we cannot separate art from the artist – I am working hard to realize this… because bias creeps into everything we do.

    Like

  6. This is such an amazing discussion, Divine and it’s making me re-think of a lot of things, including my attitude towards the books I read and everything related to that. I’m ashamed to say that I may not be the most mindful reader. There are maybe certain times when I do focus and realize the importance of what’s being said, but I’m not all that good at digging deeper and finding all the tiny hidden msgs that are there. I’m also not good at researching the book and author thoroughly before reading or supporting the book. I just read what seems interesting to me and support it if I liked it. And I realize that that’s not entirely bad, but as a blogger, I also have a responsibility to be more careful about who I support and who I don’t.
    “You cannot separate the art from the artist.” I’m starting to realize that this is really true and that I have to realize that. Sometimes the book is good, and the author, not so much, but more often than not, the author’s bias does creep in and I’m just picking it up without realizing. I don’t want to be misinformed or to unintentionally be hurting people because I’m too…dense?….to realize it, especially as a blogger.

    Thank you so much for this discussion!! It’s really made me start thinking about how I’m approaching blogging and books, and I’m so glad that you’ve helped me realize that ❤✨ Happy informed reading!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to be of help Rukky and don’t worry we readers aren’t perfect always but it’s really amazing when we try to improve our mindset with consuming books! Of course we can always read for escapism alone hahahahahah we just have to try to be more critical of our reading :> Thank you for reading this!!

      Liked by 1 person

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