Very recently I’ve just had an upsetting experience which led to a decision to quit a book community. This was because one person within the community insists upon greeting fellow members in a certain religion’s way (this person did this not once or twice but daily, and it’s not a simple greeting), and even sometimes brought up religious topics in conversations. I found this both annoying and inappropriate, so I voiced my thoughts to the rest of the community: I think one should use neutral expressions in a public community. I thought that this (community) should be a public place where everyone from every religious and cultural background could belong and feel welcomed. It turned out that (probably) I was the only person objecting the matter, so leaving seemed like the best decision. Maybe you think I should be more lenient, but I see no point in holding my place in a community I no longer feel comfortable in.
I don’t know about you, but the more I read, the more I am able to be tolerant towards people who are different from me. But I have my limits, just like everybody else does. In fact, I never had this kind of problem in any communities I have been a part in. In book communities, people come from every religious, cultural, economic and social background to gather for one common purpose: the love for reading and the mission to spread that love. We are different in many, many ways, but the love for reading is what makes us one. Being a part of a book community enables me to learn and accept other people’s views and opinions (even though I may not always agree with them), to place myself in another’s shoes and to maintain friendships in spite of differences. I’d like to think that diversity is an asset to a public community. Think of a rainbow without the color blue. It would not be called a rainbow.
Just a few days ago, on 17 May, Indonesia celebrated National Book Day. But this celebration was tainted with the current sweeping and banning of books that are considered leftist/promoting communism. I don’t think that the banning would be a wise action considering the fact that Indonesia stands on the 60th position from 61 countries in world literacy rankings, according to the study conducted by Central Connecticut State University. Sans the banning, only 10% Indonesians show interest in reading and average Indonesians only read 2-3 books per year. Compare this to developed countries where people read 20-30 books a year. Book banning will only worsen Indonesia’s already low literacy rate.
And how, you may ask, can reading bring us together while there are millions of books out there and each one of them is different? We read to improve our minds, and with the right books, our entire person can also be improved. As an improved person, we are able to place ourselves in our surroundings and act accordingly, while using our minds to contribute to the common goal. A nation will benefit more if its people are well read. And since Indonesia is a developing country with a pitiful literacy rate, I’d say it is urgent for the people of Indonesia to start loving reading today.
And watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o2DylQ3sDY
This post is also published for the event Posting Bareng BBI 2016: #BBIHariBukuNasional