It might sound crazy, but lately I’ve been encouraged. I know we can all point to so much in the world that’s not encouraging, but I’m seeing signs that give me hope. Last weekend I attended a local film festival that brought in people from several different states. I can’t tell you how uplifting it was to be with a community of movie fans, many of whom I already knew, but others I met for the very first time. We shared our stories, our favorite films and movie moments, and so much more.
I’ve also been overwhelmed at the number of people who’ve read my book Men Don’t Read: The Unlikely Story of the Guys Book Club. People contact me telling me how much they enjoyed the book, but also asking how they can start their own book clubs (and not just for guys). Some are buying copies for their friends. And yes, wives buying copies for their husbands, because, as the title of my book says….
I believe that most people are looking for community. (It doesn’t have to come in the form of a book club, but starting and running one is easier than you might think.) Some will disagree, but we weren’t made for life in isolation. (There’s a reason why most prisoners fear solitary confinement.) We were built for community. We were made to be with other people.
The problem is that eventually we’ll disagree with other people and maybe even fight. We’ve seen more than enough of that during the past few years, small-scale and large-scale. A book club is just one way you can bring people together and exchange ideas without coming to blows. Yes, we’re going to disagree, but it’s also likely we’re going to hear something that will challenge the way we think.
That idea should not be threatening. Such a situation may be challenging, and it may make you uncomfortable, but it could be a sign that maybe you should consider another viewpoint. That doesn’t mean you have to embrace that viewpoint, just consider it and respect the person presenting it.
In just a couple of days, the Guys Book Club at the Severna Park Library will meet to discuss the book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. It’s a long but tremendous book with plenty of opportunities for discussion. I’m sure not every member of the group will agree with every statement presented in the discussion, but I am sure that we’ll all (me included) walk away from the meeting richer, and maybe even have something to dwell on that will expand our thinking.
Plus we’ll also be building community.
You can read more about building community in Men Don’t Read. Your local library may already have it, but if not, you could ask them to purchase it. Even if you don’t, we can all do our part in building community where we are. It only takes a little effort, but it’s so worth it.