Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Try to Be Kinder

You really should check out George Saunders' wonderful convocation speech found via a sharing friend on Facebook. Here's a taste:

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Amen brother.

Real Men Ignore the Twerps

At Letters of Note we find this letter from Ronald Reagan to his son Michael in the days before Michael's wedding. Basically, it's about the true value of remaining faithful and in it he provides the best definition of being a "man" that I've seen:

Sure, there will be moments when you will see someone or think back to an earlier time and you will be challenged to see if you can still make the grade, but let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn't take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music.

Reading a Book Equals Getting Kicked in the Groin

My (sad) quote of the day comes from LifeHacker:

"What the hell, you got a room in your house just filled with books? That’s stupid,"
was one of the many memorable quotes from my first semester teaching in
a school filled with at-risk and impoverished kids. Right now you’re
reading a productivity and technology blog. You’re no stranger to
literacy and you read for enjoyment. All day every day you process
thousands upon thousands of words to make meaning of and enrich your
world. As an educator both at the high school and collegiate level, I’m
confronted again and again with children and adults who are only
semi-literate nearly drowning in a world they can’t process the way you
and I can. Somehow, every year I find myself with hundreds of students
that regard reading a book the same way they regard getting kicked in
the groin. If a student makes it out of their formal schooling only
semi-literate, their passage into adulthood is painfully crippled. All
the social programs in the world won’t be able to stabilize that
person’s life as much as the confidence that being a competent and
literate adult would.

BTW, this quote comes from a LifeHacker post dedicated to Blog Action Day’s theme of poverty.  Their take is to attack poverty with literacy.  They mention programs like Reading is Fundamental and Family of Readers.

I’ve always been interested by the whole read/don’t read divide.  When I was in college I constantly had guys say things to me like, "I can’t believe you read for fun" and look at me like I was some kind of subversive.  While I was in school I came to Winston-Salem to visit some family and my cousin set me up on a date with his girlfriend’s friend.  When we showed up at her house to pick her up I was introduced to her dad and I noticed that he’d just put down Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October.  I mentioned that I’d just finished reading it and really enjoyed it.  The dad’s mouth hit the floor and he was actually nice to me from that point on, but I think his daughter was unimpressed and thought I had to be the biggest dork she’d ever met.

As an adult I’ve often been bemused by people who visit our house and notice all the books we have lying around and whose eyes just kind of bug out.  On the flip side when we visit other people’s homes and I don’t see any books I wonder if they just don’t keep them or if they don’t read at all. Now these aren’t people who are illiterate by any stretch of the imagination, and in fact I’ve yet to meet a family that doesn’t have magazines lying around.  Books are another story all together, though, and I wonder if it’s the time it takes to read a book or simply the fact that they find books unappealing that causes them to not read them.

When I was a kid I read all kinds of crap like the Hardy Boys.  One time I overheard one of my Mom’s friends ask her why she let me read "trash" and she said that she’d rather have me read "trash" and enjoy it, than force me to read "good" books and dread it.  She was right, of course, and I wonder if more people would read books if they were allowed to read what they like as a child and not forced to read "good" books.  Heck, I’ve had adults say to me that they didn’t realize there were "fun" books out there until they got to be an adult and stumbled across a "fun" book in the airport while waiting for a flight.

You might wonder why reading books is important.  It’s important because all of us need to know how to communicate effectively with people and reading books better enables us to do that.  When you’re reading you’re practicing the formulation of ideas and the ways to organize and communicate those ideas.  Without realizing it you become expert at understanding the importance of context and the importance of giving people the information they need in the order that makes it easiest for them to understand.  In short, reading books literally helps you to function more effectively in our information-intensive society.

So the next time someone says, "I only read romance novels" congratulate them and encourage them to read another.  War and Peace ain’t for everyone and as long as they’re reading something they’re a step ahead of most.