From the beginning of society, books were the most important tool to preserve and protect human knowledge in order to pass information to the next generation. Before books, the art of oratory was the only mean to guide our souls to illumination of our minds and to tell us how to live a wise life. But every good orator can be a manipulator and a sophist. The roman emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius used to say:” Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” In other words, books helped humanity to see beyond appearances and shadows of our world. From my own point of view, books are the most important tool that helped me to pass through the stormy days and made me conscientious of the relativity and misleading of what we like to call reality. Some say that reading is for the ones that have no personal life. But what if, I’m reading because my limited existence is just not enough for me?
Firstly, books makes you leave more lives than your own. You can experience different ways of leaving, different values and you can take part in incredible adventures. They make you a different man than you were before. Scientific books helps you understand reality, our past and nature. Literature is a mimicry of life. It will help you travel through the gates of time and space. You will absorb the atmosphere of various parallel universes and societies. Also, witnessing our struggle, anguish and pain we will be able to understand, a little of the suffering and tragedy of the human condition. So will we become more sensitive, empathic and tolerant when facing other beings. A rare quality well needed in this jungle called capitalism. In time, you can obtain a wide range of vocabulary and you will realise that you can really express your thoughts, both in written and when giving a speech in front of a big audience. Likewise, myths, honour codes, philosophy of moral, religious and the theological books can make you a spiritual and meditative youth. They can be the light that shows us how to be wiser even from the beginning of our modest, but full of hopes and ideals that is called journey to the great transcendence that is called death. Philosophy will help us realise how subjective, temporary and illusory is our knowledge and understanding of the causes of the laws of nature, universe and human interactions. Our very existence will be shaken by this comprehension. Can’t you see the benefits of reading?
Secondly, when I open a book, I enter a world that no one can take me away from. Scientific and technological progress in the twenty-first century have created conditions that are unfavourable for ration and searching truths. We are ruled by secrecy. Manipulation of the media that is supported by ruthless companies that would do anything to make profit in collaboration with a corrupt political class is a wide spread phenomenon in our globalized world. We are going to a new dark age that wants us to be puppets on strings. “Even if you can’t make it outside these walls you can eat food, sleep and keep living. But, that’s just like livestock. From the time we are born, we are free. Flaming water, frozen earth, I don’t care what it is. The one who sees them will be the freest person in the world! Fight! I would willingly give my life for that”. The only salvation from their misleading is traveling to a parallel world, your own world. This can be made only by reading. Books are the only reliable source of thinking. Even if the information is not entirely accurate or you just read a fantasy novel, the real effect of reading is that it makes you reason for yourself, elaborate a criticism thinking, and you will start asking questions, inconvenient questions for some. The idea is that you will may be able to stop doing what they say without thinking and questioning their actions. Albert Einstein used to say: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” If more people will do the same, you will represent a force that will endanger their system of chains. Dare to reach into the darkness, to pull someone in the light. Remember strong people not only stand up for themselves, they stand up for others too. Even if you can’t fight with them alone, at least you can say that you are not a sheep but a human with dignity that will never give up on his rights and freedoms. Furthermore, our greyish times created a new type of individual. Each person is increasingly lonelier comparing to the past. We are communicating less in reality. The daily job routine that we hate makes us depressive. There is no way out of it because we have to pay the bank rates. People are starting to die from a new illness: exhaustion. More and more teenagers from developed countries are becoming suicidal since they can’t find their place in this unmercyfull, fast paced high-tech urban monstrosity. Humans are not robots. Every person needs a moment to take his breath, relax and spread his wings in order to fly and to liberate his unique set of feelings. What better solution for escaping this pressing times than books? In this adverse conditions, is there any other doorway to save your soul?
On the other hand, Friedrich Nietzsche had a different opinion: “People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” Nietzsche criticizes the fundamental values of the ultra-streamlined society in which he lived reaching to the denial of encyclopedic principles which exclude the existence of vitalism. In other words, Nietzsche wants to induce the idea that our old values about right or wrong are relative and false. The new man needs to wake up from the superstitions and shake off the old traditions because they are just illusions. “Innermost essence of existence is the will to power". His design of thinking lead to a strong system of arguments that wiped out idealistic values, in particular of Christianity and the visions of romantic philosophers of history like Hegel. To sum up, we don’t need books and the benefits of reading, which I have shown above, because they are just dellusions. Lichtenberg comes to another dark conclusion: “What use is all this light if people do not have eyes to see or they voluntarily close the ones they have?” He wants to tell us that the benefits of culture and emancipation are none because the vast majority of people don’t want to think, and the ones that know, don’t want to act because of petty material interests so they close their eyes on purpose. Nowadays it is not feasible and profitable to know too much. Traditions and superstitions, especially in my country, represents another hindrance in awareness and awakening of reason. Is more comfortable to be ignorant. Knowledge can make you arrogant. You start to think that you are far superior than other people and have more rights, even the right to destroy what you think is wrong in order to create what is, in your mind, a better world. Another consequence is that you become incomprehensible by the society and dive in into a terribly frozen and tragic loneliness. Some hard facts can break your heart and erode your soul. The other objection to books is that not all people need to read in order to have a successful professional life. When you are battling for survival you don’t have neither the time, neither the mood to read. I will end this counter argument with a quote from Emil Cioran that speaks for itself: “Life is worth living only at the end of philosophy, on its ruins”.
To conclude, books have their ups and downs. As I have shown, they can be the most important doorway to life. To summarize, reading makes you aware of the world around you, bestows you all the the knowledge for which our ancestors fought for in discovering, gives you the possibility to create your own universe or to evade this one. A trained mind is one that is truly free. Books can give meaning to your life, both in pragmatic and spiritual meaning. Contrariwise, there are strong points of views that are challenging the benefits of knowledge. Stepping out of the masses have its risks and disadvantages. The vast majority of the values that are propagated in books can be mirages. In this economic crisis, where you can't find a job, books are not able to put bread on your table. No matter what is your opinion on this subject, I want to say that the most important value that I tried to transmit in this essay is liberty. In the name of if, I beg of you to think independently at the pros and cons of reading. I want to share with you one last issue of thinking: “education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”