Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Salon: Syllabus for Our World

Silence is not the answer, although we might be forgiven for feeling that there is nothing we can say.

In a violence-filled world, It is so tempting to pull inside your shell and hide. Or take the entrenched positions that have become so predictable and familiar.

Or post something vaguely comforting and unifying on the internet.

What do we do? How do we make sense of, understand, and then fight against the violence and division that have gripped or ripped our social fabric?

There don't seem to be any right words or right actions. Just a sense of fear, grief, and maybe numbness.

But saying nothing isn't an option either. 

Here's where I am: against all violence, against all bigotry, against all oppression. And wanting to: understand, empathize, engage, act.

As an ally, I can educate myself.

As an educator, I can educate myself and others.

As an American, I can speak truth, vote, call/write my elected representatives.

Here are a few books that make up my own personal syllabus for the world we live in, as well as some links. Peace to our world.

For understanding, brilliant incisiveness, and one of the most courageous voices in American literature, it's James Baldwin every day and forever. A few works to start with:
The Fire Next Time essays
Another Country my favorite Baldwin novel: a searing illustration of the ways we live and love in a fractured world
Notes of a Native Son essays

and to read right now:
"Letter From a Region in My Mind" James Baldwin's 1962 essay from the New Yorker

Kiese Laymon speaks his personal truth in his essay collection:
How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America
and then Roxane Gay interviewed him:
"A Conversation With Kiese Laymon" Roxane Gay

Addendum: I can't believe I forgot to include the amazing, stunning, gorgeous, lyrical and devastating Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. A book everyone should read. I wrote a review back in 2014.

If you are an educator, here are two resources I use constantly and love:

Rethinking Schools

Facing History and Ourselves

Finally, here is one of my favorite quotations from Dr. King:

Darkness cannot drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

The King Center has educational and historical information about non-violent action.

I believe that radical love and radical non-violence is the only hope we have. Agape and ahimsa. Anything else harms us all. Peace to the world.


Lisa said...

Well said. The reality is that we cannot turn out backs on this any longer, from our safe places. I, for one, have decided I can't just sit here any more and say "that's just not right" and do nothing to make it better. thanks for the reading list to help me as I try to understand better.

Bryan G. Robinson said...

Ahimsa. I hadn't heard of that and had to Google, but agree we need both: agape and ahimsa. Like Lisa above said, thanks for the reading list. It's always a good thing to keep ourselves educated.

bibliophiliac said...

@Lisa-You are so right. We all have to *do the work*. Good people must stand up.

bibliophiliac said...

@Bryan-it comes from Ghandi.... I love the vocabulary and philosophy of Dr. King's movement--it is something I can share with my students.

Iliana said...

Thank you for this post!

bibliophiliac said...

@Iliana-Struggling for words....