Zena Al Maskari

You Are Lucky You Can Read This

Before I begin, I would just like to clarify that I decided to write this article in the hope that it will aid you to understand that you are always luckier than you think. And that is because you can read this.

As someone who is literate you automatically have a long list of advantages over someone who is not. You are able to appreciate the written thoughts, the feelings and the ideas of countless fellow humans. You can be transported on a journey, another place in time, or even to an entirely different world without even moving from your seat.

Yet these phenomena dim in comparison to the extraordinary stroke of luck that you have had access to education and that you therefore hold the most powerful key to countless doors of opportunity.

What does this mean exactly? I can easily put this into perspective for you. Currently there are over 100 million people like you and myself who are not able to read. These people are abused, belittled and left vulnerable, simply because they cannot read. More often than not they are denied access to basic human rights simply because they do not have the opportunity to read them, let alone understand them. And the irony is that one of these basic human rights is a basic access to education.

Illiteracy is one of the strongest shackles that binds a person within the chains of poverty. Sometimes this transgresses to a literal prison, in the case of a woman from Sierra Leone who was wrongly imprisoned for a crime she did not commit because she never had access to education. It was through this harrowing experience that she came to the very poignantly painful realisation of just how important being able to read is.

Fortunately, this lady has since been able to learn how to read, to better her opportunities and those of her family. But this happy ending is not in everyone’s story, and is in fact denied to a lot more individuals than we’d like to imagine.

I cannot remember learning to read. As far back as my memory goes, reading has always been a given. Words are not a random arrangement of lines, letters and shapes on a page, but a process of thought that I can completely understand.

The more I think about how lucky I am to be able to read, the more I come to realise that it is by the grace of birth that I am able to do so in the first place. By chance was I born into a family that always prioritised education and maximising the opportunity of it. By chance was I taught to read, to express my thoughts, and to understand in ethical and literal terms my rights as a human. By chance am I able to sit here today and write up this article and by chance are you able to read the words I am writing to you.

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2 Responses

  1. Jordan Holdsworth Jordan Holdsworth says:

    It’s so easy to forget that literacy is indeed a luxury. Thanks for shedding light on this, Zena

  2. Charlotte Hadfield Charlotte Hadfield says:

    I know you posted this a while back but I’ve just got a chance to read it & just wanted to say I really enjoyed it 100 million people is crazy!

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