Reading changes the world

Home / change / Reading changes the world

Lyn Hunt claims in her book Inventing Human Rights: A History  that what made human rights a reality in Europe was not only politics and law but also reading novels. 

The concept of human rights depends on empathic identification with individuals, something that only started appearing between 1750 and 1776 due to the popularity of novels in Europe. 

Of course there were other factors, but novels made the point that we all feel the same regardless of our race, gender and class. People learned to feel how others felt. It was a new skill at the time.

Reading novels affects our brain, facilitating new concepts and ideas. 

The empathy that you need to change people has to be cultivated over time. It’s not just about a well-executed marketing campaign. You’re helping them to reframe and come up with new ideas and connections. Your empathy needs intention. And intention lives in your vision. Trying to change people without a clear vision is like flying a jet for a 100 km journey without realising that it can take you further. 

They didn’t know that in the eighteenth century, but we do. 

Empathy, intention, creativity and vision go hand in hand. How are you going to use them to take us further?