The country needs you to stay home and open a book

Image: 123RF/Yulia Grogoryeva

Have you ever read a good mystery novel?

A real pacey page turner that grabs you, arrests your attention and simply won't let go until you have devoured the very last page because of the burning question: "whodunnit?"

I can be a bit of a compulsive reader, so when I come across a book like that, literally everything around me stops until I have traced the very last full stop.

I know from reading mystery novels, and from watching everyone else around me who reads stories and allow their brains to fill in the images, that it helps the brain hone critical and analytical thinking.

It encourages within the human brain the ability to take details where they are provided and sort them out, organise them in such a way as to determine the scope of anything that one could be presented with. What do we call the people who do not possess this life skill? I have thought about these people a lot in this past week and must shamefully admit that in that time I have yelled, both internally and loudly the words "idiot", "stupid" and "moron".

It has been a week since the president announced a state of disaster and announced measures the country would be undertaking to keep things together in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

One of the things that has been asked of us as a nation is to undertake social distancing, actions that are taken by officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease.

One of these actions that can be taken is to stay home and not leave the house unless it is absolutely necessary.

It has been absolutely bewildering for me to watch how people have taken this very serious call to action as a casual suggestion. Granted, the president should have been a lot firmer with instructing business to stop work or force them to allow employees to work from home.

It has been absolutely shocking to watch people film themselves out at parties and other congested spaces. Have they not heard?

I am mortified that some people in my life have also failed to realise just what a serious situation this is. When we got the first case of the coronavirus, social media broke out into jokes and giggles.

It was funny at first but I thought we all knew that the jokes were cute but that the situation was a lot more serious. Apparently not.

And then it hit me. Ours is a society that does not value reading and literature, right from the top structures.

So something that I took for granted was that all of us would be able to apply our minds and grasp immediately what was required of us. I assumed that all of us are reading the reports coming in from the rest of the world and would be able to then apply it to our own situation and context. That we would not be required to explain to people a restriction on alcohol must be placed. I was wrong.

Thanks to the failure to provide adequate reading that promotes a reading culture, not all of us can think critically about issues at hand. Makes sense why it is easy to believe a politician who makes promises that would cripple the country in one day. The set-up of the country is such that the majority of people, who could very well be smart, just weren't allowed the opportunity to build themselves in that way.

As tempting as it is, we can't call people stupid or idiots, some of your ministers and premiers would be implicated, so it would make things very awkward. They just lack the ability to think and engage critically.

Luckily, it is never too late to start reading and correcting this. We have a pandemic on our hands, stay home and read a book, please. I know this really incredible publisher if you are stuck.

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