Morality Stories–Will They Hold Up?
It seems morality isn’t popular any longer. A simple check of TV listings and movie trailers will garner more than enough evidence of that reality–at least on the surface.
One has to look at a variety of factors to come to any kind of concrete conclusion. Generalism sloshes when you work with it.
Case in point: print media appears to actively discourage morality stories for children. Many writer’s guidelines will tell the writer to abstain from sending in preachy stories, refrain from making an obvious moral point, stick to fun subjects and voice.
I don’t have an argument with the guidelines. I’m curious, though, as to how children are supposed to learn to differentiate between right and wrong. What if the child doesn’t partake of spiritual teachings? What if the child resides in a chaotic household and doesn’t get an opportunity to learn good teachings?
Aesop’s Fables taught most lessons about right and wrong, good citizenship vs. bad, and all the rest. Some of those fables were universal in nature, without definitive origin.
Take the story of The Grasshopper and the Ant, for instance. That fable is one of the oldest winter stories told by the Native American Kootenai tribe–same story, same lesson, ancient origins. And in case you’re wondering, according to the Kootenai storyteller who told me the story, it has always been within the cadre of stories of the people.
The Tales of Emperor Akbar and his advisor Birbal use much the same premises and moral dilemmas. These legendary figures continue today in tales for instructing children’s behavior. They are delightful, not preachy, and are kept lively for readers of all ages. A writer friend of mine specializes is these wonderful tales of the Mughal Emperor done as contemporary retellings.
I do believe the teachings are out there. I read them every day among the stories contributed by writers to children’s magazines, whether in print or online. At least this genre hasn’t eliminated the moral from the story. It must be subtle and fun, or subtle and emotionally touching now. That’s the difference.
Yet, I wonder if that will continue to work as these next years roll by. The world is becoming a very visually violent place and children learn a great deal by watching what goes on around them. Can the teachings of positive behavior compete on a daily basis with the images of steal it, knock-‘em down, shoot-’em-up violence on media sources?
Will subtlety prevail in capturing a child’s conscience in a growing media-smothering environment? That’s my question for today.
I know that only time will give an answer to this. In the meantime, what would you suggest children be exposed to more often to see good behavior to balance the bad? If you’ve got a suggestion, I’d like to hear it. I know that the Disney people do all they can and have great success at it. Can we do more on a regular basis? Or do you not think it’s a problem?
Give me your opinions. Step right up and leave a comment at the bottom. Tell me what you think.
Until then, a bientot,