Why we read books that may teach us new things – a reflection

Once upon a time, nearly everyone believed that it was ok to live in a society where one group of people could “own” other people as enslaved persons.

Once upon a time, nearly everyone believed that it was a good medical practice to “bleed” people who were ill.

Once upon a time, nearly everyone in the medical profession believed that it was a good thing to x-ray expectant mothers. (Seriously).

Once upon a time, nearly everyone (OK – at least a very solid majority) thought that it was the right thing to do to not let women vote in elections.

Once upon a time, people pretty much accepted the idea that companies could lock their workers in a large factory room to make garments; in an upper story; without giving them a means to leave the room, even in case an emergency were to occur.  (cf. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire).

Once upon a time, nearly an entire country pretty much accepted that it was ok to kill millions of people because they were Jewish people.

Once upon a time…there were other things that people were wrong about.
Many things;
Many people.

A brief history of the world shows that a lot of people, and a lot of societies, got a lot wrong.  And then, over time, after arguments and protests and marches and arguments and speeches and votes and demands, things began to change.  For the better.  Even if people thought that it was not for the better at first.

Would anyone like to argue that women should not vote? Or that we should x-ray expectant mothers? Or that one human being should own other human beings as enslaved persons?

“To grow is to change, and to have changed often is to have grown much,” wrote John Henry Newman.

And, yes, some new proposals, some newfangled ideas, are wrong – as wrong as some of the oldfangled ideas.

But, don’t you think you would benefit from reading books, and speeches, that represent different ideas than you now have?  Is it possible that the wrong ideas and actions and viewpoints of the past were not the last ever wrong ideas and actions and viewpoints?

In other words, it is possible that you are wrong about something today – something that matters.

And it is possible that I am wrong about something today – something that matters.

Learning, growing, changing, getting closer to “right,” is what growth is all about.

I’ve got some learning and growing to do.  Maybe you do also.

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