Readers have less hate! Is that why they want to ban books?
What If I told you that people who read are less likely to hate?
Recent events in St. Tammany Parish have shone a spotlight on learned hatred versus empathy. The family of Evette Randolf had hung a sign on their property with a simple message: “Ban Hate. Not Books.”
After standing for months, the sign was burned down.
People are born with empathy. Even infants can demonstrate empathy for others. Hatred is something people learn through negative stereotypes or experiences that are reinforced over time. It is not something innate. But empathy is. And you can become more empathetic just by reading.
Yet, someone had enough hatred to set a colorful message encouraging people to read on fire.
The burning of the sign is being investigated as a hate crime, but it is proof of something that study after study has shown. People who read are more likely to be empathetic.
It makes sense when you think about it. When you read a book, you have to imagine yourself in the shoes of the narrator or main character. To enjoy the story, you have to picture it in your head. You imagine the character as they turn on a lamp, drive a car, overcome an obstacle, or experience heartbreak. And by putting yourself in their shoes, you are practicing empathy.
That’s what empathy is: understanding someone else's life, circumstances, and experiences on a personal level. That’s what the Randolf family was encouraging.
Reading is not just fundamental to learning; it helps us become better people. Being friends with someone exposes you to their experiences and helps you see things from their perspective. Reading lets you experience a variety of perspectives even faster. (Although there is no substitute for a good friend!)
Research professor of psychology, Keith Oatley, noted this in his studies. “Reading novels enables us to become better at actually understanding other people and what they’re up to (…) [With] someone who you’re married to ... or a close friend, you can actually get to know them. Reading fiction enables you to sample across a much wider range of possible people and come to understand something about the differences among them.”
We can’t let people use their hate to burn down our empathy for one another.
You can help. Show your support by joining the crowdfunding campaign to replace the sign and show that you value reading more than hate.
Like the Randolf Family said: Ban Hate. Not Books.
Join the campaign today.