I was thinking today that I can’t remember a politician who has so actively centred books within his public dialogue and persona. Literature. Education. The power of the novel and the belief in collective education. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a British context and that saddens me. But I saw it in the Obama administration and I loved that.
Books matter, and you know that if you’re here. Books, and the reading of them, and the public embrace and advocacy of them matters. And when you’re president or prime minister or the head of a school, or a mum or a dad, you almost have to forget yourself because, in a way, you don’t matter. What matters is the act of reading. Of participating. Of believing that we’re better together. Of knowing that empathy and understanding and knowledge is good. Great. Powerful.
And I think the Obama administration got that.
When you read, when you model behaviours, when you talk about the books that matter to you, you share and you advocate and you talk and you connect. And you build hope and connections and you build the ability to disagree but to do so on the strength of your literacy, of your ability to synthesise and understand and analyse information, and you build the ability to connect.
You build with books.