The Reason I Read International Literature is Bigger than Literature

Hundreds of thousands of people gather on the Place de la Republique to attend the solidarity march (Rassemblement Republicain) in the streets of Paris

I write this post with a roiling stomach, one which has been roiling since yesterday. Sunday, January 11, 2015. The day of the march in Paris against terrorism and a loss of freedom.

Many weeks ago, one of my dearest friends asked, “Why do you read so much translated literature?” and before I could properly formulate a complete thought, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Because I don’t feel American.”

I did, once upon a time. When I was a child, and John F. Kennedy was President, it seemed America could do anything. Be the first in space? Sure. Resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis? Sure. Be a compassionate leader in strength and integrity? That is what I felt it meant to be an American.

Today, I am ashamed that our President could not bring himself to Paris. We were essentially unrepresented in a significant world issue, and to me there is no excuse.

World Leaders

I will always be from the land of the free and the home of the brave. I will always value the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedoms that my son as a U.S. Marine has vowed to protect. But, I will also link arms with my fellow world citizens, who fight for the right to live a life without fear. A right to live without a terrorist domination. Because “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

I can link arms with the world when I read the literature which it produces. The points of view may differ from mine, but together I become whole. The literature of the world can make us a group which understands and affirms one another, a group who will stand together against evil.