One of the most powerful images I was taught as a child is that just as the beauty of a garden is in the diversity of the plants that compose it, so it is with mankind. One by one, obstacles to creating unity are coming down. This is due to many factors, one being thoughtful books on oft-overlooked ethnicities, medical conditions, personalities, or anything else the ignorance of which creates barriers between members of the community.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is such a book, which can yield eye-opening understanding about a group of individuals who, although not always appreciated on a large scale, have contributed decisively to the fortunes of humanity. The result of years of work, Susan Cain’s book paints the portrait of a diverse group of people who have one thing in common: they are introverts.
Why would such a topic be important to the attainment of unity? Because North America is seemingly steadfast in its belief that extroversion is better. The implications of such a belief are numerous, with some of them being downright disastrous, and affecting the approximately one-third of the population that is introverted.
As explained in the book, many an introvert finds himself pretending to be extroverted, denying himself the space needed to recharge, with a negative impact on his mental, emotional, and physical health. There is also the fact that most people are not aware of the introverts around them – or aware that they are themselves introverted. Add that to the fact that the definition of an introvert is not clearly defined in research, and that it is commonly quite misunderstood, and we have a recipe for disaster on our hands.
Written in an engaging tone that makes all the statistics quoted and research included easy to read, author Cain makes a compelling argument for changes in the structures of society to include introverts. This is all the more important in that introverts really seem to be the ying to extroverts’ yang, bringing to mind the metaphor of a bird needing both its wings to be able to fly.
What struck me the most is how little we know about the phenomenon despite the advances in our collective understanding. Hopefully Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and other books like it can provide a framework for each reader to reflect on this important topic and contribute to creating communities in which both extroverts, introverts, and everyone in between can contribute fully to their development.
First published here on Blogcritics.