The Moral of the Story
Stories have been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. I love books and I love stories
As I get older, however, I start to really analyze what it is I am reading and, looking back, I start to see some very obvious twisting of the messages aimed towards children.
Take the Hardy Boys for instance. Those books weren’t even all written by the same guy. Franklin W. Dixon is the pseudonym for several writers from a book farm who were paid to produce Hardy Boys mysteries like so much canned corn. The books themselves were badly written and held some pretty flimsy life lessons.
Here are some things I have learned from the Hardy Boys.
1- I learned never to trust anyone who seems different (read: not white and/or weird accent)
“Jeepers Joe, I bet those yellow fellas have something to do with this”
2- The police need my help even if they tell me to go home or they’ll arrest me. Me being a 14 year old boy and they being bureaucratic, lazy pen pushers.
“Golly Frank, good thing we’re on the case or the cops would have never found that gigantic spiderweb with a dude on it!”
3– Getting caught by gun toting criminals will result in my being held in a dark room or some other such place, but NOT KILLED, until the timely arrival of my 14 and 15 year old brother and friends.
“Wow Joe, you’re just in the nick of time. Who would have thought that would happen a 54th time?”
My real problem with childhood stories, however, is with the much more inaccurate Fables.
When I was growing up, Fables were everywhere. I had books of Fables, adults recounted fables from memory and even Jesus through the magic of the bible was telling me Fables.
A Fable is a life lesson story, usually with anthropomorphized animals in bizarre and unlikely situations. At the end of the story, as an addendum, there is a moral. The life lesson we were supposed to learn.
That sounds fine if the moral was actually correct or made any sense.
Here are some of my favourite Fables, their morals and what I actually learned from the story.
The Tortoise and The Hare
A rabbit and a tortoise have a foot race. The rabbit scoffs at the tortoise and brags it up. “I’m so awesome” he says (or something like that). The race is started and the rabbit takes off like lightning. The tortoise starts trudging down the course at a leisurely pace. The rabbit, seeing how much in the lead he is, decides to take a nap a couple metres from the finish line. Long story short, the tortoise wins while the rabbit sleeps.
Moral- “Slow and steady wins the race”
I’m calling bullshit.
Why would the rabbit take a nap? Are rabbits notoriously sleepy animals and someone failed to mention that to me? Also… ok. There is no also. Just why is he sleeping a couple of metres from the finish line. Sleep on the other side of the freaking line.
Tim’s Moral(s) –
1- “Don’t take naps during a foot race”
2- “Don’t be an arrogant douche”
3- If you’re not very good at your desired profession, success will only come if you NEVER SLEEP”
The Ant and the Grasshopper
All summer a grasshopper plays and dances and has a great time living up the hot glorious days of summer. An ant sees all this while he works hard preparing for the winter to come. The ant tells the grasshopper that he should be working, and the grasshopper tells the ant that he should stop being a tight ass and have some fun while the summer is here. Both continue with their own stubborn ways. Long story short, winter comes, the ant is warm and has plenty of food while the grasshopper is left out in the cold with no food. The grasshopper knocks on the ants’ door and asks to come in whereby the ant says “No way Jose. You should have worked” and slams the door in his face.
Moral- Idleness brings want. To work today is to eat tomorrow.
Yeah, ok. Here is what I got out of this story:
1- “Get better friends”
2- “If you work all the time and never have any fun, you’ll probably turn into an asshole”
These Fables, although incorrect in my opinion, are beneficial to child learning, and at least impart wise character traits for kids to embody.
Then there is:
The Scorpion and the Frog
A scorpion needs to get to the other side of the river. He asks a frog for a ride to the other bank. The frog says “No way Scorpion, you’ll sting me and I’ll die” To which the scorpion replies “No I won’t. If I sting you we’ll both drown and I’ll never cross the river.” Since this makes perfect sense the frog accepts. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog says “Why did you do that, now we’ll both die”. To which the scorpion replies “Because I’m a scorpion, that’s what I do.”
Moral – The Leopard can’t change his spots. (Obviously that’s not it, but it’s the same gist. I’m just pointing out that this idea has many stories about it.)
Real Moral – People never change
Yup. You read that right. Nobody EVER Changes… EVER!
Forget redemption, forget compassion for people in dire situations forced to do bad things because of their situation. Forgiveness… No fucking way.
No-one will ever change so don’t trust them.
That’s what I want to teach my children.
If you work too hard, never sleep and never trust anyone, you’ll be an upstanding awesome person that everyone will envy.
But no-one will like you and you’ll have no friends.
And if that happens, who will come and save you when you’re captured while solving crimes?