Several years ago I was moving from one state to another and my Uncle Larry came to help me move. Everybody knows I love to read and I love books in general. Needless to say even back then I had a lot of books and he didn’t like carrying them to the moving truck. He made the comment “Ya know, those books can become your enemy.” I looked at him with a question on my face and asked why. He didn’t really give an answer and walked away to go pick up something else.
A couple of years later I moved back up to Missouri and stayed with my Uncle and Aunt Connie for a few months until I could get an apartment to rent. I didn’t have much except for the clothes on my back and some toiletries in a Wal-Mart bag by way of a Grey Hound bus. It took me a couple of months to purchase what I needed to go back to school. When I was in Texas I lost everything, even all the books I had. There were a lot of things going on in Texas when I was there that I didn’t understand but even down there, I realized recently, somehow my Uncle still had influence.
In my family, my Aunt and Uncle are known for telling the rest of the family what to do. They’re pretty bossy and even if they don’t talk to you directly they’ll find somebody to make sure you do whatever it is they think you need to do. But, one day while I was at their house I was smoking a cigarette and my Uncle wanted to talk to me about something. I don’t remember exactly what it was but seemed like he just wanted to shoot the breeze so-to-speak. Somehow I remembered and I asked him what he meant by his previous comment about books can be your enemy. He kind of acted surprised and gave me a half shod answer about sometimes people might get interested in what your reading and might want to make something of it.
I didn’t understand why anybody would want to do something like that. To me an individual reading a book is their business. Reading a book is a one-person activity and it’s not like everybody wants to read a book on purpose just to have two or three people looking over their shoulder reading with you. That would be kind of weird. I dropped the subject because he seemed kind of bewildered and got stressed out for having to answer my question.
Later on, I gave that question more thought and I started noticing things. It seemed like I would come across a book, read it, and then notice on the news that somehow current events would be following on the same theme as a book I’ve either read in the past or currently. Also, my parents would take an interest in what I was reading and after a while, I would find myself in some sort of similar situation as what I had read.
People have the choice to take things literally, figuratively, or with common sense. Of course, certain books are popular because the author is either well known and has the experience that everybody wants to read about or the author is really awesome at what they do and again everybody wants to read their work. Everybody starts talking about the book, people take note of what’s in the book, and they are either better off and know more or they have found something that bothers them and set out to either avoid something or do something about what they read. That’s not a catch-all but a few examples.
Because I began noticing that I was finding myself in similar situations as what I had read in one of my books after my parent’s inquiry I began to connect some dots. As time went on my question and my Uncles response came back to my mind. Then I realized that the only reason why a book would become somebodies enemy is the fact that people would want to use you, the reader, to play some sort of game to do or get something. What other reasons would a book become your enemy other than to have nosy people put you in the same situations as what you have read in a book? Something like that would get very annoying and irritating. Being put through dynamics and situations like that would definitely discourage anybody from reading a book. Not only that but that would cause a societal shift in that if those dynamics happened often enough readers would shy away from any book that might bring controversy to themselves or their loved ones. They would start to only read books that would bring them prosperity or positiveness.
Then I started to think and ask myself some questions about what types of groups or individuals would continuously do something like that and why? Well, later on, I figured out the answer and those have to do with politics and ideologies. However, that’s not necessarily my point here. My point is that I disagree with my Uncle. Books do not have to be your enemy. The real enemy is the people that try to put you through what you read, literally, and use you as a game piece to accomplish something for themselves.
There is not a law that states that an individual has to be put through what they have read or are reading. It seems to me that if there is anything of that sort it is made up and is a common understanding between the individuals that made up the game rules for using a reader in that way. What a person reads in a book and making decisions to do or not do something about what they have read is a personal decision. Besides, a person writes and reads a book by themselves anyway. If not, somehow, there is definitely something wrong. I’m not saying that we should shy away from potential adversity, rather we should not, but be wary. In a way, enemies of books choosing to play games with what you, the reader, are reading or have read are in effect taking away your individual freedom and rights by making you afraid that if you read any book you might be messed around with. If there is a book you want to read because it is interesting to you as an individual you definitely have the personal choice and freedom to do so. I hope this has been educational for you in that this provokes some thoughtful thinking. If you have any thoughts or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I will leave you with a poem called Invictus.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul