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In my own thinking

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Most of the knowledge we have acquired in life were made through reading. We cannot quantify the immense value the art of reading provides any one engaged in the act. It was the Tibetan mystic writer, Tuesday Lobsang Rampa who enjoined: ''Read wider to know the truth and be wiser''.

Most of the knowledge we have acquired in life were made through reading. We cannot quantify the immense value the art of reading provides any one engaged in the act. It was the Tibetan mystic writer, Tuesday Lobsang Rampa who enjoined: ''Read wider to know the truth and be wiser''.

The bible elucidated or validated the importance of reading in the acquisition of knowledge when it stated that ''my people perish for lack of knowledge''. Knowledge we are told is power. When people read they are better informed and put at vantage point to take decisions on issues they would have acted blindly in the absence of information. Ignorance could be very costly. The plea of ignorance we have heard too is no excuse when you fail. Bishop Oyedepo writing in his column in the Vanguard newspaper some time ago stated that: ''No matter how talented you are the depth of your study is what determines how colourful your future will be.'' He went on to admonish: ''Don't read just for pleasure or religious satisfaction, read with a fact finding mission to locate information that will put you in charge. The evidence of your study must be seen around you manifested in your freedom from sickness, sin, confusion, lack, suffering, and despondency.''
Reading meant in this piece is not in the sense of reading to acquire a degree in a specific branch of knowledge. Many of us that passed through university education often contend ourselves with what we know in our area of study and may have never bothered to romance any other form of literature in our life. In truth what approximates to a reading culture in Nigeria is the mad craving to enroll and acquire a degree orchestrated by the misplaced emphasis on certificate just to acquire a meal ticket. We have forgotten what Jim Rohn, a business philosopher said: 'that traditional education can make you a living, self-education can make you a fortune''.  In that effort we only pretend to read. It was not for nothing that Zig Ziglar admonished that: ''it is not a disgrace to lack a degree but it is a disgrace not to be educated.'' He went further to indicate that: ''those who stand out from the crowd have learned that all development is self-development.'' Recall how often you remain spell bound each time you are enthralled by powerful speakers or writers of great repute who may have distinguished themselves in one academic project or another. Sometimes we marvel with such exclamation: ''this guy is too much''.
Most of the time we plead that we don't have time simply because we are all consumed in one material pursuit or another. What many of us are yet to realize is that most of the solution we are losing our heads to have can be found in reading by sharing the thoughts of other people that have been confronted by similar challenges. Unfortunately some are still lost in the illusion that reading is something that should be left to those engaged in literary activities. The argument of lack of time flies in the face of the idle time we fritter away in idle talks or frivolous activities that do not promote knowledge.  Truth is, we are yet to come to terms with the fact that reading is important in our lives otherwise we will accommodate it in our daily schedules. In the same way some of us visit pubs and watch the tubes to unwind, reading also could provide a form of leisure. Its importance is underscored by the fact that no one can take away what you know and the application of what you know makes you a wise man.
''Ignorance is the true original sin. Men are morally bankrupt because they do not know the true gold mine that is in them'', says Francis Bacon. One clear benefit of regular reading is that it helps to clear up our ignorance. It boosters our confidence and attracts for us self-respect because we are informed. This got support from another writer who opined that: '' you cannot rise above the information that you have. Knowledge is vital to the achievement of any level of significance in life. Knowledge is gotten by seeking. Knowledge is perpetuated through writing''.  There is no idle time for anybody with the consciousness to read. Every minute counts because he may have realised that life is too short to waste even a second. Some people sometimes embark on long distance journeys that can take upwards of eight hours and waste the whole time in sleeping or engage themselves in idle talk. Reading can be done anywhere and at any time.
In trying to underscore our level of under-development one derogatory e-mail tried to bring down the black man when it said that: ''If you want to hide something from the black man, put it into writing. The black man does not read''. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a sad reality even though the so called civilization came from mother Africa. Writing an essay in a Rosicrucian Heritage magazine, Kenneth Idiodi, Amorc  Regional Administrator, further highlighted the importance of reading when he wrote: ''if a man seeks knowledge and learns what is truly good, he will act in his own best interest. Knowledge breeds understanding which in turn leads to goodness and good living. Mistakes are made because of lack of information. If one knows what is best he will do what is best.''
There could be no better companion than books. Pitman Shorthand recognized this when he said that: ''If you have love of books, you will feel no loneliness if and when men forget you. For the man who derives pleasure from reading books makes for himself reserves for strength to call upon against the time of trouble or stress''. Espousing further the virtue of reading, a novelist, Elizabeth Hardwick told us that: ''the greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, and it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.''  When we get reading education and enlightenment takes over and the mind is more illumined. At this point governance of men becomes easier because issues and discourses will be taken from a higher perspective outside the horizon of ignorance. This is the reason Lord Brougham wrote: '' education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave.'' Another writer stated that: ''the illiterate of the future are not those who can't read and write but those who can't learn unlearn and relearn.''
It does not matter whatever may be our calling there is no limit to what we can read. Even as a professor who may think he has seen it all there are still fresh grounds to break. You may choose to venture outside your comfort zone and explore new areas. Through readings people are up skilling themselves in diverse ways. Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, 'Madam Due Process', for example, carved a niche for herself in at least four distinct areas of interest. People are criss-crossing boundaries to other professions and discovering other potentials as a result. If you think you are not best suited in what you are doing presently begin to explore the world by reading. Yours sincerely trained as a banker but finds great delight and pleasure in reading and writing.   
Those in the journalism and legal profession in order to serve their clients well have regular contact with literature and this perhaps explains why they describe themselves more learned than others. Reading is for everybody and available for all. There is so much and easy access to what to read. Technology has made reading materials easily available. Today you can know all that you want to know. It is a common saying today that ''you can Google it if you can't ask God''. There is so much education I have soaked in today which is value adding to my life by simply belonging to WhatSApp groups. Reading widens your knowledge base and improves your language power. It updates you. Imagine so much opportunities people have lost because of lack of information.
What is lacking is our willingness and interest. There is no constraint to reading except the ones we have created. Even in the scriptures Paul writing in his first and second letters to Timothy also recognized the importance of reading. In 1 Tim 4:13, Paul wrote to say: ''Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.'' Continuing in 2 Tim 2:15, he went on: ''study to show thyself approved unto God, a work man that needed not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.''
The importance of reading cannot be over stressed. It also provides an escape valve for those emotionally laden.'' When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind'', so declared, Michael de Montaigne. Can we therefore resolve now to read, read and read because its benefits are immeasurable? The reason children are not doing well in their qualifying exams is because they have shunned reading. They are more distracted by music, football, video watching, and other irrelevances. You will be amazed at the mastery of the lyrics of some artists by school kids who cannot recite any formula or quote any passage in their literature.
In my own thinking we need to retrace our steps and embrace reading again because that is where life is. The more we read, the more we learn and the more we live. Each time we learn a new thing it excites us and makes us feel good. If we keep it continually coming in no time we become transformed and better equipped to function well in life.You can give it a trial and you will be glad you did.

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