Literacy Mantra – Searching for Truth in a Desert of Untruths

It is fitting to just let Maryland/Delaware Library Association’s keynote speaker, Justina Ireland’s works sink in:

“Liars are not hurt the most, the innocent are.”

Truth seekers – “As a society, individuals have forgotten how important the truth is.”

“It is not how truth makes you feel, but what you do with it.”

“It is harder being the worst of ourselves versus the best of ourselves.”

“Social relationships are built on trust.”

“People as a group are lazy, It is easy to stay with a comfortable answer rather tan research it.”

“It’s like fiction can contain a little too much truth.”

“Being human can mean looking into how we’ve failed in the past.”

“Let uncomfortable truths challenge us to be better.”

“Fiction gives us a door to handle uncomfortable truths.”

“People who fear truth have to stop those ready to embrace truth.”

“Everyone’s truth is worth embracing fear.”

Takeaways from Justina Ireland’s keynote. It was difficult at first to see where Ms. Ireland was going with her anecdotal story of being a teen and covering as a lookout for a friend when she was doing something she didn’t want her parents to know about -and then lying about it. And paying the consequences for being a “cover” for her friend. Yet, as we get deeper into the story of Ms. Ireland’s experience as a teen, adult, mother, author, and as she experiences the world around her through those roles, if we allow ourselves, we see a bit of ourselves, (okay, maybe a lot), and future generations trying to make sense of this world with the events happening around us.

Maybe it is not so far-fetched that story tellers can weave stories that help interpret truths…

I LOVE (as an educator nerd) the fact that studies between reading fiction to understand empathy, and the idea of “repeatable settings” helping to set the tone of an individual to learn how to handle uncomfortable truths, but work through scenarios through fiction.

Fiction making you a better person?

Fiction and the brain

Anyone that comes bearing studies and providing paths to gaining more insightful information must be a librarian/author/reader, right? Actually Justina Ireland showed it could be any of us.

The anecdotal story how how the question What was the cause of the Civil War stood out to me, as many historian students danced around the question, and when the professor asked why she did not speak up, being surrounded by individuals that did not look like her, she had witnessed possibly an uncomfortable truth in a sea of individuals that unconsciously were not aware they were shying from a truth. Yet, I love how as a history buff, she is able to see societal norms that take uncomfortable truths and gloss them over – torus of mansions with pieces of history left out of the tour, justifying the transatlantic slave trade for the economy of America, a tradition of having weddings in locations where so much tragedy of the past has occurred, subtle, but very much glossed to smooth out an uncomfortable truth.

The comment that adults make miserable readers versus youth, LOVED. Thinking of all the issues and dilemmas adults get caught up with and the energy that youth bring to those same dilemmas, is a lesson we can learn from as adults every day in everything we do.

In saying that it’s like fiction can have a little too much truth when alot of fiction is being asked to be removed by adults, it is important to “…have difficult questions” in order to teach youth what we are showing them” in the best possible way.

When you ask someone to remove something from their book because it is offensive, but based on something that has been a part of our past – we begin to lose a piece of who we are in looking into the mirror of our past to see who we have been, who we are, and who we want to become.

Justina Ireland emphasized that we need to learn to reconcile when we comes across a piece of fiction something that might shake our core, and that we’d be less likely to reject an idea if it is not happening to us, but being able to consider it before outright rejecting it. Totally agree on this, absolutely. SO CONNECTED to Medhi Hasan and perceiving audiences with storytelling (and pathos).

After being a visitor to the Harriet Tubman Museum and Underground Railroad State Park and being able to take in the landscape peacefully among the powerful displays inside the museum, I respected a little more the absolute fight Harriet Tubman had for her very soul, and it would be a complete let down to ignore those truths and move on without resolving to carry fights for the truth forward that matter. It prevents the movements of individuals like Harriet Tubman and so many unheard stories from being erased as a part of our history and representing the often hidden and unheard truths that are our history amid much of history celebrated, that often is not the true history of so many.

It is perfect that Ms. Ireland challenged all to keep truth as everyone’s North Star, just as Harriet Tubman resolved to go back and rescue truths time and time again at her own risk of losing herself.

It is absolutely fascinating to hear questions asked to Ms. Justina Ireland, and I will save that for the next post – to let you take all the really motivating information in about truths and our history.

Absolutely, this keynote message and the messages of truth librarians across the United States is deserved to be passed on to future generations and should be represented.


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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