Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Moral of the Story

I haven't been able to put words to my feelings about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. A lump of confusion, helplessness and outrage has been stuck in my throat.

I can barely think about losing my child, let alone so senselessly and with so little remorse from the person responsible. I dread the day when I'll have to tell my daughter that the world can be cruel and unfair. Claire's too young to understand right now, but she will come to me for answers someday. In light of last week's verdict, I feel profoundly helpless about my ability to give her good ones. 

A strange circumstance brought these thoughts and feelings into focus for me the other day. Claire and I were singing along to Little Bunny Foo Foo on the IPod. The song's supposed to be fun. It's always been fun. Since I can remember, this morality tale has been merrily teaching kids that actions have consequences, that might does not make right, and that justice can be on the side of the little guy.

As we sang the song, it wasn't so fun anymore. The tale of Little Bunny Foo Foo didn't seem to match our world. Reality wasn't as cut and dry as the moral of the story would have us believe.

I started to wonder if Little Bunny Foo Foo needed to be rewritten in light of the Trayvon Martin verdict. How would the song go if Little Bunny Foo Foo lived in Florida? What if he had claimed "Stand Your Ground" to The Good Fairy? Would she have let Little Bunny Foo Foo go free? How many more field mice would be bopped on the head for the sport of Little Bunny Foo Foo? Singing with my daughter, questions filled my mind.

How do you teach children the difference between right and wrong in a world that sometimes seems so lacking of a moral compass?

Claire asked to hear the song again, like toddlers do. I obliged. I loved that song when I was little. I believed in its lessons. I still believe. Peace. Justice. Equality. They are universal lessons.

But I felt a bit of a sham sharing them with Claire that day. l couldn't help but think of Trayvon Martin's mom. Life's more complicated than Little Bunny Foo Foo.

I looked at my daughter singing, and I longed for the innocence of a child.


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Photo Source: Milos Milosevic, Flickr

29 comments:

  1. Rachel, my dear, you have, once again, outdone yourself. This is a beautiful and elegant way to capture the confusion, fear and frustration of such a high-profile case, verdict, and upheld laws that in so many ways don't make sense. I love that you use the simplicity of a childhood song that I, too, remember with happiness to illustrate the agony of wondering how to teach your daughter right from wrong when there are times when humanity's moral compass is just plain off.

    I think this article is brave and amazing and something that should be read by everybody. Well done. Really, really well done.

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    1. Thank you, Kristi. It felt important to write this piece, but it was also really hard.

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  2. I agree with everything Kristi said. You just completely summed up the feelings that I haven't been able to verbalize. If only we all knew how to be good to one another... life would be so wonderful.

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    1. Yes, I struggled for the words too, Jessica. I'm glad that they have resonated with you, now that they have come to me.

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  3. A lucky little girl to have such a thoughtful (and talented) mommy like you. Beautifully written. Love.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. Your words mean so much, because this piece was hard for me to write.

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  4. both of you are lucky to have each other :)

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    1. I feel so lucky to have her. I look at her, and I've found my moral compass.

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    2. Aw! Your reply here almost made me cry! In a good way...

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  5. I have not been able to articulate my feelings on Trayvon Martin verdict. Thank you for doing it well.

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    1. I'm so glad that this piece resonated with you, Stephanie.

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  6. For me the fear has been more about the random violence that was perpetrated in the name of Trayvon Martin after the verdict. As a mom, the inability to protect your child from the complete randomness of amoral tit for tat is terrifying.

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    1. I don't advocate people taking the law into their own hands either. However, most of the protests have been peaceful and no one has died. That does not make the people who have broken the law justified, but I just want to put things into perspective. I also think the subtext of the words "random violence" needs to be examined. Those words are loaded for me. I'm not exactly sure what you meant by them in particular, but I think that they can lend the appearance of a rioting, hysterical mob mentality that I don't think was present following the Trayvon Martin verdict.

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    2. Maybe I'm just out of touch but I don't remember hearing about a lot of random violence afterwards. I remember reading how shocked and sad people were but not about violence.

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  7. You stated so well exactly what I've been feeling. Sometimes, I want to take my children into my house, lock the doors and never, ever, let anyone out! But that would be wrong, too. So I so the next best thing. I talk to them. About every subject. Always. Talk and talk and talk. It's my way of preparing them for THE WORLD. Thank you for this post. As usual, you are able to state so succinctly the jumble that is my thought process!

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    1. I love your positive message, Diane. It gives me hope! I needed that.

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  8. Oh, Rachel, I have been writing tomorrow's post today on a very similar topic, about teaching my children about war and that not all grown ups are good.... and now I am so comforted to read your words about this. Not that we are finding answers, but to know that others who value peace and justice are struggling with how we teach our kids that often, the world is not peaceful and just. I just loved reading this, and I, too, wish my children could stay innocent longer. I think I'll be adding a link to this post in my post for tomorrow.

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    1. It's better to not feel so alone, Sarah. I'm glad to have you understand me and I'm sure I will feel the same reading your post.

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  9. I think it is so hard when our peace bubble where we are raising our children are infiltrated. You begin to think that if all children are innocent and raised with the moral compass where do we go wrong as parents?

    Sadly, we cannot keep our children safe forever. But we can darn sure do our best to be their safe place to land

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    1. It's a beautiful sentiment, Kerri. Being a child's soft place to land. I hope it's enough.

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  10. Rachel, this is beautifully said. Don't feel like a sham. Teaching your child peace, justice and equality gives him/her goals to work toward. Best, Erin at WoofTweetWaah

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    1. Erin! Where have you been? I used to love reading your blog. Have you started writing it again? I'm headed over there today to find out....

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  11. Beautifully written, Rach. Love this. She is so lucky to have you as a mom.

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    1. Aw, that's so sweet of you to say, Amy! I hope I am enough for my daughter. I think it's a hard world to navigate these days, and that worries me to no end.

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  12. I have also been mired in the yuck over the verdict. And some of the absolute vitriol coming out of other people's mouths. This was a lovely piece. I read something really clear-headed from AskMoxie about the verdict. I am going to send it to you via email because I think you will appreciate it. Sorry it took me so long to get to this. xo

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  13. Such an insightful post, Rachel! I too have noticed some strange discrepancies in songs and rhymes for toddlers- lyrics that don't exactly embody messages that I'd like to send. And you're right- it would be a nice departure from our adult reality to step back into that kind of innocence.

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