Thursday, January 05, 2006

# 94 OPINIONATED

Sometimes I have rigid opinions about how I think things should be. I’m forced to acknowledge that because on more than one occasion I have been labeled by friends or associates as “opinionated”. Now normally I don’t like being labeled any better than the next man or woman, but it seems to me that ‘opinionated’ is a label that seldom, if ever, is applied in a unthinking off-handed way. If people say I am “opinionated” then I accept that indeed I must be.

And though I don’t particularly relish such a criticism, I feel blessed that I am aware of it. Knowing that others see me as opinionated has made me strive to be more open to understanding opposing views.

But despite that, there remains a rigidity in some of my opinions that I cannot overcome. In my head and heart are some values that are so deep-rooted they leave me totally helpless. Forced to keep them, acknowledge them, preach them, live them, and support them. And the weirdest part of all this is I don’t even know where they came from.

One of the notions I have in my unscientific cache is my steadfast opposition to giving children only facts. I rigidly oppose the outright massacre of Easter Bunnies, tooth-fairies, angels, Santa Claus, elves and the legends that go with these famous creatures. My heart and soul must defend the right of these creatures to exist in the minds of children.

I feel life is too short to give children the hard facts on war, floods, starvation, forest fires, and all the other disturbing stuff I see on the news day in and day out. But our current social trend is that as parents we are obliged to do that. And then we are to follow that up with some kind of polished in-vogue ‘parental guidance’ intended to suspend any fears or doubts this information might kindle. Problem is, we have our own smug interpretation of our well-thought-out-explanations and it is very good. But ideas float around like invisible spirits. Despite the self-stroking we get from being ‘a totally honest parent’, there is a problem. We can’t assume that in a child’s mind, our interpretation is theirs. There is no scientific way to know that for a certainty.

Now in recent days, I have had my nose in a fascinating book. The book I have been reading is Charles Dickens’ book entitled “Hard Times”. And to my amazement the substance of this book (written way back in 1850 or 1860) is the damage we do to the consciousness of children by rearing them on a strict diet of facts.

If Dickens is not your cup of tea, you might change your mind if you just read Chapter I of this book. Dickens may not have been a scientist of Einstein’s caliber, but his works are honored by academics at all levels for his uncanny understanding of the timeless ingredients of our social order and how perspectives of human selfishness can warp and twist that social order.

Now I don’t want to get into a long rambling book review. May it just suffice to say that Dickens certainly proves in this work that children need a diet of fantasy for the sake of joy in their youth and sentiment, empathy, and nurturing skills as adults.

And in support of that, I remain strongly opinionated.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Esther said...

How I love fantasy! Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and everyone's current facination for Harry Potter. As a child I grew up on it and as an adult I go to it, especially when I am feeling stressed. I think that fantasy is alive and well, and I agree we could all use a little more fantasy in our lives, both adults and children.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

esther, even in the intangible, invisible, quark-driven impulses of cyberspace, I can feel the joy in your comment.

So realizing that, the next thing I have to ask is "Why won't parents that are atheists or agnostics allow their children to believe they are safely in "God's care" until their offspring are mature enough to cast this off as fantasy or adopt it as fact?"

It's such a small supplement to add to their diet of fantasy or fact. A small serving of this thought can only be helpful toward equalized perspectives of their own uniqueness and value.

4:31 PM  

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