“Is it bad?”
The look your father gave in response to my question said it all: “Do you not know?”
I admitted sheepishly, “I haven’t seen the news…” I haven’t just not seen the news, but anything besides your movie-of-the-moment, “Elf,” in the past four days. To those in the rest of society: Pardon my spontaneous jigging.
I was on the couch last night remote in hand about to change my fate when a trailer for the ten o’clock news came on, a snippet promising the latest on the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Gaza Strip. I’ve heard nothing of this. I felt ignorant, out of touch, and furrowed my eyebrows in concern over what this “latest” could be. War? That’s when I asked your dad, my link to the outside world (to which you might say, “wow,” as in dad’s your news source?), for more information…Is it bad?
Sadly, he confirmed my suspicions.
Perhaps this despair was what caused me to hand over the remote to him in a moment of weakness. He put on the History channel. (“Wow,” you might say again with different inflection, commenting on our rockin’ night.) On a show about the history of mankind, I watched men in burlap sacks shoot bow and arrows at each other to a narration along the lines of, “…they worked hard for this land, cultivated it, farmed it, they were not going to let anyone take it.”
“Come on, Denby,” I said. “Too heavy.”
He flipped to 60 Minutes. (“Wow!” you’ll be firing these off left and right.) During a segment called “The Baby Lab,” we watched professors at Yale study morality: Are we born good and learn how to be bad? We watched babies show signs of knowing right from wrong and supporting “good” behavior, as well as, conversely, babies showing signs of bias with negative feelings toward those who were different. We watched babies support punishment for those who behaved badly. Babies, six months old! Little blobs on the floor who could only point with their still-filmy eyes! We watched generosity increase in children as they grew older, as they learned concepts like “sharing” and “benevolence.” Yes, the more they learned. I thought of myself saying to you guys 100 times a day, share, share!, when your natural instinct is to whack the hell out of each other over a swiped block. Mine. My mind and face crinkled, are we born to protect what’s ours? Do we all go back to the men in those burlap sacks defending our land? Your dad and I turned to each other with wide eyes.
“Wow,” I said.
…”Elf” is on a the moment. In between jigging and interjections of “ooh!” and “oh my gosh a snowman I love it!” in support of your cheers and points of glee I am dipping my head to my laptop, trying to read the latest on this fight over the Gaza Strip. The death toll is rising.
A scene where Louis Prima’s jubilant “Pennies from Heaven” is blasting.
–“Sunshine and ravioli, MACARONI!”–
I’m no expert, babies, but you know I like science. I like to study and observe and learn.
So here I am, taking in the media around me, thinking, hoping, praying that somewhere between smiling at everyone like Buddy the Elf and killing each other over land, beliefs and possessions, we messed up humans can one day get along.