Even thinking about purposefully burning books makes me shiver.
What about reading 46,118 words about it?
It’s been more than 60 years since the publication of Fahrenheit 451, the masterpiece by Ray Bradbury.
If you’ve read the book, I won’t judge you for skipping the next paragraph, but if you haven’t, then here’s a little summary so you understand why I took the time to write this article.
In the dystopian world of Fahrenheit 451, firemen are used to burn, not kill fires. More specifically, they are used to burn printed books and the houses in which they are hidden. People who read those books and preach about them are arrested as well.
The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman who, at first, blindly follows the government’s rules and feels ecstatic while watching the fire devouring the papers. However, one day, he meets his neighbor, Clarisse, a not-so-law-abiding girl, who induces him to start thinking critically and seeing the error of the government’s agenda. Ever since, Montag starts questioning everything.
While reading this book, I highlighted many quotations that stirred my mind just as Clarisse stirred Montag’s. It wasn’t the beautiful syntax or the fancy vocabulary—it was the powerful depth of Bradbury’s words that we could still relate to and learn from right now that really impressed me.
Here are three beautiful lessons to ponder from Fahrenheit 451:
1. We need to experience and explore so we can learn.
“‘It doesn’t think anything we don’t want it to think.’
‘That’s sad,’ said Montag, quietly, ‘because all we put into it is hunting and finding and killing. What a shame if that’s all it can ever know.’”
Many in the novel are controlled by the government, taught to think in a specific way, and are unable to break out of the conditioning they have been slaves of for so long. Aren’t humans sometimes like that as well?
This makes me think about the influence of media in our lives. Without proper discernment and considerations as to the sources we are receiving information from (is it a reputable news organization?), we may be taught certain things that are not true. And we harm ourselves by deeming everything given to us as reality, instead of experiencing and analyzing the nature of this reality ourselves.
2. Voice out your thoughts even when they don’t make sense.
“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.”
It is hard to speak up for some people nowadays, what with all the toxic caution that we are forced to live by when choosing our words. This caution can grow from getting obsessed with being politically correct, being afraid of harsh criticism (since some people build up their self-esteem by crushing others’), and not making sense of our own thoughts.
We need to start voicing out our thoughts because when they are out in the open, we can start making sense of them ourselves. It may not be through a radio show that has more than a million spectators, but it can be as simple as writing them down in a journal, praying, or even sharing them with close loved ones.
3. We are not the masters of nature; we are its partners.
“[…]remind people that we’re allotted a little space on earth and that we survive in that wilderness that can take back what it has given, as easily as blowing its breath on us or sending the sea to tell us we are not so big.”
Let’s be real. We need nature. Nature doesn’t need us.
We must remember that there’s something bigger and stronger than us in nature, and we must act accordingly. We must respect it.
It isn’t always about not using plastic cups and straws. It also comes down to not throwing litter in the ocean or on the road, cutting down on using machinery that harms nature, planting trees instead of cutting them down, avoiding chemicals that harm the atmosphere, and so on.
There are many more lessons to be learned from this beautiful book, but the most important lesson of all is to read.
Read. Read. Read.
Seek knowledge like young sunflowers seek the sun.