Burning Books are sad events for any culture. Mosul, Iraq is now in a “state of anger and sorrow,” wrote Rayan Al-Hadidi, a blogger and activist in Iraq. While we watched the Academy Awards, here in America, the people of Mosul watched their books of antiquity turn into smoke and ashes. Most of us would guess such a state of anger and sorrow in Iraq is obviously due to the current violence against humanity going on there. But there is possibly yet deeper emotions caused by Burning Books from a culture’s roots; especially when that culture is referred to as “the cradle of civilization.” When conquerors want to eradicate cultures, they love to burn books. Books are a way humans have learned to preserve and to pass on their rich culture and cultural traits to future generations. Buildings can be rebuilt and monuments and statues restored; but Burning Books leave only ashes to blow in the wind.
The power of words speaking to us from the dust of ancient cultures enlightens our world with a connection to the past like nothing else can. The reason is we know a real person in real time held the writng instrument, a quill, or a pen, to put the words down. Whether on an animal skin, a piece of parchment, a scroll, or paper, words are sifted from human surroundings into descriptions, thoughts, and emotions, which are literal pictures of the past.
We didn’t live when they wrote; nor can we ever walk in their shoes, but the Burning Books tell us from whence both we and they, came – and give us wisdom and hope for the future. For book lovers, historians, and writers, the following article will cause pain, but also empathy for those whose culture is being destroyed on a daily basis.