As heard on Spokane Public Radio:
*The children’s TV host Fred Rogers famously carried around a quote from a social worker in his pocket that said, *Quite frankly, there is no-one you couldn’t learn to love once you have heard their story.* Mr. Rogers is always right.
Yeah, except when it comes to immigrants, correct? They’re not like US. They’re…a little less deserving of a good life, or compassion, or refuge. We would move heaven and earth to help our relative or friend if they were trapped inside Syria or Haiti or Afghanistan, but some stranger? No way.
Well…a very interesting idea was floated in my book group last week. Jerry said that he read an article on biblio-therapy; that people who read novels have been found, in studies, to have MORE EMPATHY with others that are not like them than people who do not read.
I believe it!
To give but a few examples (as a writer this brings me great joy)–
The Typewriters Heard Around the World
The novels A Christmas Carol and Uncle Tom’s Cabin changed the worlds of England and America respectively. Charles Dickens was a member of the House of Commons, and on several committees drafting legislation about the terrible conditions of John Bull’s working man/working child–but nobody cared. Nothing changed.
Then, he wrote A Christmas Carol and everything did. Factory owners began to give their workers December 25 off and gift them a turkey. The working hours of children were reduced. People felt the suffering of others in their hearts, and they could no longer pretend they didn’t know.
Cannery Row got regulations passed regarding the meat-packing industry faster than the Pony Express. I Am Malala is helping girls and women everywhere in the fundamentalist world to find their voices.
Go forth, my friends, and read novels. Go forth and write them. Pass it on.