Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Courtesy photo
How reading spawns inactivity
Thursday, September 24, 2020

In my teens I read adventure books but I don’t mean those with the 
‘Cowboy and Indians’ tags. Not even something like the more recent Harry Potter genre. I mean like “The Nazi Menace”, or “The Last Mission over Tokyo.”

These were the World War II years, after all.

For sure, I was not reading “Little House on the Prairie” during my formative years!

I really never got addicted to reading novels because they are usually disappointingly about ex-wives and how to get happy in spite of your shortcomings.  Many,  these days, are boring women’s works about “becoming”.

I will admit, though, that I am an addictive reader and I subscribe to everything!

But, lately I have taken on a more critical view of this pastime of reading good books and I’ve been thinking how reading engenders passivity. If you really want to think of the consequences of an activity that you take more or less take for granted, the truth is that the consequence of curling up with a good book is doing nothing!

As I became an adult I even learned to love reading REVIEWS of books. Even today, I recommend that source. You don’t have to actually read the books — you can just read reviews. These days, during the lockdowns because of the pandemic I can imagine that people are doing much more reading than usual because STAYING HOME is getting a bit tedious, and reading makes you feel that you are at least doing something.

Maybe you like exposes as your reading fare. If so, the Crime and Punishment section is always compelling And if that fails, you might find yourself turning to the television where solving old police cases is a big deal. Perry Mason is long gone, but if you find yourself turning to Rachael Maddow, you can find solving political crimes and joining the journalist opinion makers of the day gives you more information you can handle. The television news offers so much more violence and crime than reading books, even more than you may want to know about!

This brings me to a book that crossed my desk recently and it is called The Impostors, subtitled “How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.” That sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it? The title intrigued me because I began to realize that as an avid and dedicated reader of books, I have learned to be very passive.  The thing about this book is that it explains the current political scene which most of us have been noticing is like doing nothing but reading Trump’s tweets.

You can hardly get your neighbors into a discussion about it all, and the news outlets are not exactly “that’s the way it is” commentators like Walter Cronkite was so many years ago.

In fact, you have to read 200 pages of Impostors before you get to understanding the passiveness and do-thing-ness of the political parties who are failing to indict the breakdown of Republican Trump-ism, and their failure to tell us about it.

Even Mitch McConnell saying “no” to every Democratic thing that comes across his desk is treated as though he is an okay legislator.  He is not. He is a stumbling block to inevitable change.


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Professor Elizabeth Cook-Lynn writes a column for The Native Sun News Today, in Rapid City, South Dakota, She is a retired professor of Native Studies and has taught at Eastern Washington University, University of California-Davis and Arizona State University. She is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Fort Thompson, South Dakota.

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