In this technological age when it is more common to check social media than the nearest library, service members, professionals, and children alike are becoming more attune to turning on complex Wi-Fi devices than picking up a book. The results are stunning. A 2014 study by the PEW research center identified that 24% of Americans age 16-29 read at least once a week. This contrasts to the 18% of Americans older than 30 that read something at least once a week. Something important is being lost.
Reading seems to be becoming a lost art. A 2004 Scottish Analysis identified that 33% of students never or hardly ever read for pleasure with 22% stating that it was a waste of their time and 40% only reading when they absolutely have to.
Considering these statistics, it should come as a surprise to many people that reading is at the core of officer and NCO professional development. Leaders cultivate their subordinates by providing them with guidance and recommendations often in the forms of reading lists. The books provided can run the spectrum from academic to first-hand accounts of events. What is common about them all is that they tend to make the reader think.
The human brain has the ability to make connections between events and help to make decisions. When someone has never been put in the situation before, they are challenged to pick the best choice available, often not seeing opportunities to influence and improve the situation. This is where reading comes in. By taking the time and absorbing the experiences of others, we can help to enrich our experiences and provide connections which can be made when similar situations occur.
Some of these may be looks at tactical decisions that were made in the heat of battle. Others may reflect personal decisions made in the office place where conflict arose. By understanding the dynamics, seeing the solution, and evaluating the effectiveness of the resolution, we as readers can empower ourselves for future events.
Reading also introduces us to the manner in which people write. The more intelligently the book is written, the more we familiarize ourselves with intellectual sentence structure and grammatical usage. As a culture, we mimic those things that we like. Therefore, by reading we facilitate future speaking, writing, and understanding on those topics. We add to the breadth of our grammatical knowledge.
Perhaps most importantly though, reading affords us the opportunity to take a break from the world around and to immerse ourselves into somewhere new. A good book can help us to realign our thoughts, influence our perspectives on ideas, and inform us of important events. For the military folks in the room, books can help to keep us alive when our intuition is not enough. They can coach and mentor through the written words of great leaders who have long since passed on. While no one book is the epitome of this, each person will find their passion somewhere and should embrace it as often as possible.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.