Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When I was a Junior in high school I had an English teacher who was an amazing teacher has well as an amazing person. Every Friday our English class consisted of "Silent Sustained Reading," as they liked to call it. I looked forward to Friday because I could a book of my choosing, which was usually a book about a famous athlete or sports. One day I forgot my book. My teacher said to me, "Brian, I've been waiting for you to forget your book because I want you to read something that matters. From now on, as your punishment you will read books of my choosing for the rest of the year."

I read a lot of books that I didn't know were wonderful books such as A Catcher In the Rye, Animal Farm, Steal This Book and a poetry book with poems mostly by Edgar Allan Poe. Near the end of the school year he gave me Nineteen Eighty-Four. Being as we only had a couple weeks of class left, I didn't finish the book. I finally got around to finishing it 10 years after the fact and can only say one thing, thank goodness for my teacher. Had he not showed me that other things besides sports existed, had he not tapped into my intellect (which he planned to do, he was just waiting for the right time) I may never have understood why being politically active and seeking more information then you get from the news is so important. Granted I have changed my political views over the years from being a conservative to becoming a supporter of the Democratic Party but it was because of my English teacher pushing the importance of expanding your horizons onto me.

One lesson he taught me, other then reading books that weren't all sports books, was to never stop thinking and to always seek out answers. Once a month we were allowed to read a magazine. Seeing as my teacher chose my reading material for me, I had to read the Utne Reader. For a spell, I wrote it off as liberal spin on issues that were unimportant, but it did encourage me to seek out reasons why I thought this. (Thank goodness most of my thinking was done for me, by Rush Limbaugh at that time.) Well there came a point where I'd start seeking deeper into issues that Limbaugh was spewing about and seen how wrong a lot of views were according to my worldly views.

Now getting back to Nineteen Eighty-Four. My teacher warned me before I read that book. He told me it may forever change my world views and I may see things differently from the time I finish that book on. He was right. With modern technology progressing the way it has, the seemingly neverending war on terror and the Patriot Act we are well on our way to such things. It may seem far fetched but Big Brother's plan didn't happen overnight either. Was George Orwell's book a book of prophecy? Only time will tell.

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