Posts Tagged ‘education’

Ray Bradbury is my hero.

This novel was first published (as a shorter version in Galaxy Magazine) in 1950, before we had the Internet, video games, and satellite television. Some people might even say that this novel was prophetic. We may be in the age of information, but this would more aptly be described as the age of information overload. And too much information results in lots of data but very little contemplation and careful consideration of that data. We fill our days with media of many different sources, and now many people even carry phones that operate as miniature computers, so that they never have to be too far from their beloved information. We have forgotten how to sit on the front porch and chat with our neighbors. We have forgotten how to spend family time other than sitting next to each other watching the TV and eating microwaved dinners. Maybe it’s not quite that bad, but I do know many people whose lives are very similar to what I’ve just described.

Most importantly, we’ve forgotten about the importance for reading. It takes too much time, the classics are hard to understand, reading shouldn’t be work it should be fun, why read when we can just watch a movie?

Bradbury’s vision of people burning books, of not being allowed to read is terrifying because it really does happen. Why does it happen? Because books create lasting impressions, books teach us to think, books teach us diversity, humanity, compassion, and respect. Books are influential. That is why they are burned. But there are always rebels who will risk their lives to preserve artwork, and I’m not talking about books alone. I watched a documentary earlier this year that showed a group of men who strategically walled off a room in a building that housed a voluminous collection of Afghan films. They protected the artwork from being destroyed by the Taliban. Several years ago I was in Cambodia and made a comment about all of the ancient statues whose heads were missing or faces destroyed, my motorbike driver told me that the Thai army had done that damage during the war, but according to my lonely planet that damage was actually done by the Khmer Rouge. I’m more likely to believe that latter after reading Luong Ung’s memoir First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. Ung explained her first hand accounts of the people’s need to throw away items like prescription eye glasses and jewelry as they were marched from their homes to the labor camps. The soldiers killed anyone who appeared educated before even getting to the labor camps.

The point from my rambling is that Bradbury’s novel may be 59 years old, but it is still just as fresh and contemporary today as it was the day he wrote it. Teaching our children to read is how we teach them to be human. And I absolutely LOVE the fact that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 while sitting in a public library.

Ray Bradbury’s Website