Witches’ Holiday: International Literacy Day – September 8th

Yes. I am claiming that this is a holiday that it benefits witches, in particular, to promote and celebrate. Granted it is a holiday for anyone who treasures or loves learning and reading, however, I believe that without literacy, without being able to read about different spiritual paths, different religions and ideas, not only will the people of the world stagnate, but also they will remain mired in the ignorance of what witches and witchcraft are truly about. Without the ability to access the truth for themselves, they will keep holding on to the old stereotypes of witchcraft that have been orally handed down by the traveling evangelists, the zealots and the reactionary fundamentalists of every religion who have never learned for themselves what witchcraft is truly about and how witches actually live, think, and believe.

“The best plan is to profit by the folly of others.” Pliny the Elder   Pliny_the_Elder

Illiteracy is a way of controlling others, keeping them at each other’s throats instead of allowing them to see reality, to work together to overcome the true needs in the communities and societies. In many cultures, where literacy is lowest, there is widespread distrust and hate of people who do not follow the societal “norms”. Those who follow different spiritual paths or those who question the way things are done, are often seen as odd at the very least. In some cultures, however, they consider these people dangerous, evil, or even possessed of demons. Why? It is because the mainstream citizens do not know anything about the way they believe or why they believe as they do. This lack of knowledge leads to fear, distrust, and hatred. Violence soon follows.

It is not “all about witches” to me, though I know it sometimes seems so in my posts. The fact that illiteracy is allowed to thrive around the world offends me to my core because it is one of the most harmful things I can think of which is not only allowed to exist in many countries worldwide, but also widely promoted in some cultures and societies, purposefully. Some groups want to keep the majority ignorant of what literacy can do for them. It makes them easier to control and use as fodder for whatever plot the leaders choose.
The powerful in these societies profit from the ignorance of its citizens. They tell others what to believe, how to act, and whom to attack as enemies. In this way, the powerful dictate and the illiterate follow because they do not know any better. They cannot determine the truth for themselves through investigation, study, and reading. They cannot investigate reports from people outside their small areas, so they follow what their local elders, and leaders say is the truth because that is all they know to do, trust their leaders. They do not trust themselves, often because they are made to feel less intelligent for being illiterate than they actually are. It is a case of “tell a person often enough that they are stupid or worthless and they will begin to believe it”.

“Literacy skills developed from a basic to advanced level throughout life are part of broader competencies required for critical thinking, the sense of responsibility, participatory governance, sustainable consumption and lifestyles, ecological behaviours, biodiversity protection, poverty reduction, and disaster risk reduction.“ 

Literacy is a tool for empowerment of the people as a whole and I believe that witches benefit, in particular. For every person we can get to pick up a book and read about alternative spiritual paths, or non-standard religions, for every person who reads for himself or herself and discovers that we are not evil as they heard or were taught to believe, that is one fewer who will verbally abuse, physically abuse, or kill a witch.
Literacy is important for this and so many other reasons. It is a basic tool for understanding the world around us. It allows us to increase general knowledge, to develop new ideas, and to strengthen global bonds. Opportunities for advancement in life and careers depend on at least a basic literacy. It opens doorways to further education and development on a personal level. It allows for the growth of concepts, which without literacy would otherwise go unexplored by the masses. It allows us to share concepts across borders and cultures; books translated from language to language and dialect to dialect span the globe.

Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_René_Descartes“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” Rene Descartes

Books from ages past translated and re-issued allow us to learn from the greatest thinkers of past generations and build upon the work they started centuries or even millennia ago. New thinkers take ideas from the wise elders of past civilizations and build on them, just as Einstein took the works of Sir Isaac Newton and developed his theories of relativity and the works of James Clerk Maxwell to work on his unified field theory. These works used by such modern greats as Yoichiro Nambu, Holger Bech Nielsen, and Leonard Susskind, help to create and explore the theories of multiverses, string theory, and supersymmetry.

However, the knowledge passed on by literacy is not just relevant in mathematical fields, or scientific fields, it is relevant in every step of life. The history of the world carried forward through the generations as reading material, the accounts written down for posterity. The oft said and repeated adage, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, has proven true time after time throughout mankind’s history. The only true chance we have to make a difference and stop repeating the mistakes of the past is to learn from them. It is the responsibility of every person to study what has failed before and to come up with new ideas for our future. If we cannot study the mistakes of the past, how can we possibly hope avoid them in the future?

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Ray Bradbury Ray_Bradbury_(1975)_-cropped-

The problem now, in addition to the illiteracy in many of our poorest countries around the globe, is the mass migration of people to digital media in the richer countries. Everything is available at the tapping of a keyboard or the swipe of a finger on an iPad. The lines blur between actual accounts and fictional accounts. Wikipedia is supplanting the encyclopedia. Credible sources are hard to find while online, spurious sources abound. Thus, literacy is being extinguished as a valuable trait, not because people are not reading anything, but because they are reading everything.

Where once publishers were determined to maintain a reputation as credible and reputable sources for the non-fiction they printed, all too often, now the digital products have been self-published and no claim is too preposterous for some of the online publishers to allow to slip through when the price is right.

Once children were taught in school to seek out reputable sources, finding three sources was a common requirement before quoting facts as true. Now, even the most specious sources used are touted as credible by major media news agencies and individuals alike on television, in print and online in spouting their “facts” to all and sundry.

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” Joseph Addison

Joseph_Addison_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller,_BtWhere literacy was once considered a core curriculum of education, a way to achieve equality across boundaries of gender, race, affluence and social standing, it has become a joke in many classrooms across America, as students work with outdated books, books edited and censored to meet the qualifications and standards of the individual community, or state agency. Many classic books with good morals to teach have disappeared from school reading lists in recent decades due to arguments over the words used, the way the lesson is taught and at times the lifestyle of the writer. The morals are being left behind in a race toward political correctness and our children’s, and grand-children’s futures hang in the balance.