Too Long Coming: Update from Cambodia

I saw a tweet today that pretty much specifically spoke to why it’s taken so long for me to write this blog post:

social-media-tweet

I wanted to provide a quick update on my latest reads and what’s up next, but there is no way, in good conscience, I could let it go at that.

I’ve written previously about how one of the reasons that I love to read is in order to transport myself to new, incredible, different, inspiring worlds, or as some like to call it “to escape”. I don’t see anything wrong with reading as a form of escape, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to withdraw and recharge by visiting your favorite fictional world.

But it’s also not the only reason to read and, right now more than ever, we need to remember that. An even more important reason to read, any type of literature, is to educate yourself and therefore grow as a person.

For a good number of days after the election of Donald Trump, the only thing I could really do was cry. I couldn’t sort out if what I was feeling was anger, sadness, fear, disbelief, or a combination of all of these things. I spent a few days writing what has amounted to a diary entry in order to sort out my feelings and what specifically has caused me to feel each reaction: anger, sadness, fear, and disbelief. I have chosen not to share this yet, but very likely will in good time.

What I want to share right now was one of the solid conclusions I came to after about a week or so. Education is all we have left. Being educated is the key to thoughtful and change-provoking action. Those of us who are viciously anti-Trump need to educate ourselves on how this was able to happen, how we can more clearly make our voices heard, and what specific actions we can take to ensure this rising monster is stopped as soon as possible. We need to educate ourselves on all the areas of civil liberties we want to see protected so that we are able to have clear, concise, and factual discussions whenever needed. We need to read up on those issues we may not know enough about. Those of you who did vote for Trump, you need to educate yourselves on how supporting someone who has not yet disavowed a gathering of white supremacists using Hitler as a model leader is dangerous to our country, yourselves included (start with reading a history book perhaps). Those of you who only voted for Trump because of his fiscal or foreign policy, you need to educate yourself on how not standing up against his hateful rhetoric is the same as supporting it, because now those things are front and center. Maybe you yourself aren’t anti-LGBTQ or racist or anti women’s rights, but you need to educate yourself on how putting someone in power who is, means that you are on the wrong side of history, it means you’ve done nothing to stand up to his supporters who think those things are okay. We all need to educate ourselves on our resources: how to stop hate crimes should you see something happening in front of you, who to call in your local and federal government to get your voice heard, and what to read to make yourself knowledgeable on the issues should you be in a position to have a discussion.

Above all else, reading is the best way I know how to educate myself. Discussion needs to follow, but I start with reading. I want to read more in detail about the challenges those of other races have dealt with so that I can have an educated discussion, now more than ever I need to be educated on my privilege, I haven’t done enough. I want to read more about how I can be a better feminist, how I can stand up for women all across the world. I want to read more about how I can become a better advocate for education and literacy programs so I can become a better teacher and better help my students. I want to learn even more about Islam so that I can more articulately explain to others why their fears are unfounded. I want to read more about the challenges my LBGTQ friends and family face so that I can better understand who I am myself and how I can become a better ally for my loved ones. I want to read more about similar leaders in history and their rise to power so that I can ensure I am doing my part to not allow history to repeat itself. Reading is the best way I am going to be able to start understanding what is happening in our world today. There are many steps that come after, but I need to start with reading.

I would love any recommendations you have on any of the above topics (or others you find vital), fiction or non-fiction, I learn better when these recommendations are coming for you and we can come back together to discuss them.

I am starting with I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai for a few reasons, not least being it’s been on my Kindle for too long. This book touches on many areas I am passionate about and from every speech Malala has given, I know she is a figure that inspires not only me but many across the world.

I also want to quickly go back to the idea of reading for ourselves, or for the chance to escape, reset, and recharge. I will be continuing to do this as well. I have loaded my Kindle with a ton of novels and memoirs I’ve been excited to read for months now and diving into a good book is a safe space for me. Being fresh and ready to take on the massive fucking fight ahead of us can’t happen if we don’t take care of ourselves. Educate, read, speak, argue, fight, but don’t burn out. We can’t live on anger and fear and that fighting spirit alone. We have a lifetime of fighting ahead so take a break when you need too. Just today I read an article touching on many of these things – 7 Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect Yourself from the Trump Administration – read it, it’s another good way to educate yourself on what’s up next and how to handle it.

I’ve spoken my piece for now and I’ll share an updated post if and when more is added.

My most recent reads include the following, click the links for Goodreads reviews:

– The Stand by Stephen King – Review

– The Magician’s Land (#3) by Lev Grossman – Review

– Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman – Review

– Marching Powder by Rusty Young – Review

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