Saturday, July 23, 2005

If Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children

then Why have visions of sugarplums and flying brooms? Our children's' gods work full-time jobs to pay their mortgages. They come home tired, outspokenly upset that their children sit in front of the television or computer, secretly relieved; relieved because the evening's Amber Alert will always be someone else's child. The good news: a "real" person will win the title of being America's newest Idol.

They let their kids dream of winning such fame but, though the world is in dire-need of a superhero, they'd rather their children stay within arm's reach. Let someone else's kids fight evil; we already gave our dollar for the magnetic, yellow ribbon, we want our children to live long enough to achieve greatness. But, our children already hold tightly a banner of greatness within their 10-finger grasp. Luckily fear is something found only in the mind and the body just reacts.

During the 1920s, Walter Cannon theorized that people experience a Fight-or-Flight response when under extreme, conditional stress. In the two decades surrounding that theory, America proved the response correct. The United States entered World War I in 1917 after the British intercepted the Zimmerman telegram in which the Germans urged Mexico to take arms against America. The Americans chose to Fight. By the 1930s, Midwest Americans were Fleeing their homes and dust-ravaged farms west to seek employment and prosperity away from the Great Depression. While 21st Century Americans are still depressed, our cliched ADD-affliction is bordering bipolar. What took us decades to react to before, we are now doing in five.

Did we start this war on terror, or were we thrust into it? Doesn't matter; Americans wanted foreign blood within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, it seems, we've had our fill. First, we just wanted our troops in Iraq to come home. After the London bombings, we're questioning if it's been worth it at all? Too many American lives lost in New York, Washington D.C., Afghanistan, and Iraq, then in the shadow of 7/7, Americans are realizing that we've already lost more than American lives - if a country can suffer such losses - but, we're also losing this "war on terror." But that's just the reality of this new world we're living in. This Summer, under the shadow of this unspoken defeat, children returned to Hogwarts and the Chocolate Factory.

When parents come home from work to sit in front of the cable news, their children sit reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or make plans to see Tim Burton's adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is not a retreat, it's an escape - a tunnel that definitely ends. The Harry Potter series concludes with book seven. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last an hour and 46 minutes. But after the final chapter and closing credit, a new adventure begins.

There are Harry Potter fan-fiction sites where readers and writers of all ages keep the series going where J.K. Rowling will leave off. Bookstore shelves contain numerous other Roald Dahl stories for kids to read. The values and truths that parents are too busy to teach, children still learn. They learn by reading books, watching movies, and surfing the internet. Kids have learned to entertain and educate themselves. What can be more promising?

While we concern ourselves with daily catastrophes and fear the return of another Cold War, our children learn the relationship between art and creativity. We have lost our innocence, but our children have not. They do not entertain themselves by watching CNN or FoxNews. The news - the fear - is our problem, not theirs. We're scared enough for them. Shelter them but let them explore and create their own front and back yards of entertainment.


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