For the Love of Reading

Literature is among one of the great joys of my life. Regardless of genre, length, prose, or subject matter I have always had a general admiration for the written word. It’s hard to fully appreciate the intricacies of our language without the thoughtful expression that accompanies writing.

Beyond just the intrinsic beauty of language, in today’s knowledge driven world it is impossible to make any significant gains without basic literacy. Yet according to the Portland based Concordia University, “More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level.”

Adult illiteracy is also generational says ProLiteracy, a membership organization dedicated to improved literacy and education. According to the organization, “Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves.”

The organization also cites correlations between low levels of literacy and poverty, incarceration, health care spending, welfare, and unemployment.

This poses serious concerns for the future of our nation, as a lack of basic literacy disproportionately affects certain minority groups, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and oppression that has existed for centuries.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that of those 30 million adults, twenty percent were African American and thirty-nine percent were Hispanic. Over half did not obtain a high school diploma.

When comparing US literacy rates with international statistics, the NCES also found that the US had a higher percentage of citizens at the lowest level of the literacy scale than that of the international average.

So what are the possible avenues for combating this prevalence of low adult literacy?

One solution, although imperfect, may come from emulating schools in the Washington D.C. area. According to PBS News Hour, some D.C. schools have been offering free adult education and GED preparation in the wake of pervasive rates of illiteracy.

While these adult education programs have not been a sweeping success story, they do offer hope and support to those whose lives have been wrought with social and financial instability.

For the sake of our nation it’s important that we uplift the aspirations of the underprivileged. Although true equality of condition may not be attainable, the promotion of education is an immense step toward bettering the lives of so many Americans. Perhaps they too can come to appreciate literature in the same way I do.

 

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Losing Our Sanity

Despite a spate of devastating mass shootings over the past year, there exists a sector of the American public that consistently refutes the notion that firearms are inherently dangerous. To these people, more intense firearms regulations are not the answer to our problem. Instead, they believe that the solution relies on more open access to guns so that Americans may better protect themselves. These same people posit that it is not the inherent nature of a weapon to be deadly, rather it is human intention that’s to blame for the deadly use of said weapon.

While in this argument there lies a grain of truth, I believe that this an insane proposition propagated by the very industry that produces these machines of mayhem.

“Every year, guns that were initially sold in the U.S. are used in thousands of crimes in Canada, Central America, and the Caribbean,” states an article by The New Yorker‘s  Johnathan Blitzer. This same article found that American-made firearms contribute to the ever-growing fury of criminal activity in Central America, which has consequences reverberating back to American soil as many Central American immigrants are fleeing this very same violence.

According to Blitzer, “There are at least seven hundred licensed gun dealers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the illegal firearms trade in Mexico generates more than a hundred million dollars in annual revenue for U.S. gun makers.”

The National Rifle Association, a group that receives a substantial portion of its funding from the firearms industry, has been a major proponent of rhetoric that displays firearms as inconsequential objects. In fact, the NRA has been instrumental in the effort to repeal and prohibit gun legislation over the past century.

So why do so many decent Americans promote the interests of an a industry that explicitly profits from violence, over the safety of their own families?

Sure, the relationship been gun laws and crime rate reduction is convoluted. But that doesn’t mean that we should exclude legislation as a possible solution. It may not be in America’s best interest to impose ever-restricting regulations to the firearms trade, but it is certainly not in America’s best interest to stand idle as this epidemic swells.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein: insanity is defined as expecting a different result from repeating the same action.

If the American public continues to accept the rumors and falsehoods propelled by the firearms industry, yet wonders why incidence of mass shootings are becoming more numerous, then we are truly losing our collective sanity.

Accept Failure, Ignore Perfection

How many times can one make excuses for their behavior before even they become skeptical of their own integrity? I ask myself this question often. People, in my opinion, are inherently self-depreciating creatures. The things we do in pursuit of happiness, meaning, and acceptance disgust us. We view ourselves in a light either too unworthy or too full of vanity. Those in the camp of unworthiness can never do enough to be at peace with themselves, while those who give themselves too much admiration will lose the admiration of others. Of the two, I find myself in the former.

I’ve always been comforted by abstraction, definition brings with it a clarity to the world that is far too frightening to be embraced. When I come face to face with my ambitions, doubt strikes like a thunderstorm to a lightning rod. All my distorted perceptions of self emerge from the depths and suffocate even my most sincere hopes. Where this comes from is uncertain, but I think that so many of us ingrain our failures into the deepest parts of our being, so much so that we only recognize our mistakes in the mirror.

If any of us could really explain why we do the things we do, there would be no place for a god to come and save us from our sins. Hell, with everything from self-help books to made-for-TV psychoanalysts, guidance has become a commodity in the twenty-first century. In our desperation for a remedy to our perceived inequity, we often neglect the parts of ourselves that require the most care. After all, there is a beauty to everyone that is too often buried by the excavation of past sins.

I’ve finally come to the point that I am tired of making excuses. Why is it so necessary that we try to reconcile our misgivings with this imaginary standard? I don’t want to waste my time trying to fulfill unrealistic expectations, I’d rather waste my time living in the moment. If you think about it, when we try to meet that certain gold standard, we forfeit our present to the pursuit of future perfection. If given the ultimatum, I’d rather die as my unabashed, shameful self than as something hollowed out by perpetual doubt and criticism.

 

Introduction

Welcome to the Moderate Outrage blog!

We all get angry at something. Whether that be what we read in the news or that jerk going thirty in a forty-five. No matter what it is that upsets you it’s okay to be angry, but only so long as your head doesn’t explode into a fiery bluster of expletives. That’s the purpose of this blog, to help me find an outlet for my well hidden frustrations, so as to not ostracize myself from the rest of reasonable society. I hope that by reading, your inner anarchist finds a like-minded radical in this overly sanitized, desensitized world. I would appreciate any comments you may have, criticisms too for that matter.