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Freedom in Literacy

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Recently I’ve been getting back into reading after finding a video called “Bookstores: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content” by Max Joseph on YouTube. The main take-away for me was the simple idea of how you can put 30 minutes aside per day just to read, which could be cumulatively throughout the week so you read more on one day or read exactly thirty minutes per day. 

What this has meant to me has been a resurgence in my love for reading, how much I can appreciate a well-written work and a way for me to travel all over time and space without spending much money. 

Currently I’m in 1984, in Japan as I travel the world of Murakami’s 1Q84 and the simple joy that comes from reading something so well written and enjoyable is immense. I see the literary world as a source of freedom in times like these as we struggle with the idea of booking flights for the fear that they’ll be cancelled, that we’ll have to quarantine or that we won’t be able to do much in other countries.

As I think about freedom, what it is in general and what it is to me specifically, I can’t help but go straight to reading in all its forms as how I view freedom due to how much I have been impacted by it throughout my life, as a form of escape from poverty and bullying and something to look forward to when I woke up, or got back from school or appointments. To others freedom might be the ability to physically go wherever you want or to buy anything or even just to wake up at any point without obligations.

The simple ability to read is a freedom in itself which I think is often taken for granted, many people are unable to read at all with a worldwide literacy rate of 86% in 2016 meaning that at the time 14% of people (1.039 billion) were unable to read or write at all. This has risen a lot since 1960 alone when only 42% of people were literate, but there’s still a bit to go and reinforces literacy’s space in a free society by pointing out how non-universal it is, giving people with the ability to read more power within society.

Literacy in its most basic form is a practical freedom in our modern world as we require the ability to read in order to know where we are in the form of street signs/ satnav readings, read contracts for jobs and houses, and even just to read the ingredients on food to make sure we can eat it without affecting allergies. 

With all this said; there’s clearly multiple facets to literacy which contribute to different definitions of freedom with layers of importance which vary from person to person but it is my view that the most attainable form of freedom comes with the ability to read for purpose and for pleasure. Reading helps us to form opinions on the world around us and keeps our minds sharp and thinking. For all these reasons and more, this is what I consider to be the highest form of freedom.

Featured image credit: books-with-wings.org

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