Today's top news story is about a mother being gunned down in a pediatrician's parking lot and her three day old newborn being stolen away by the murderer. I keep thinking about this awfulness and wondering what the heck is going on out there.
I checked the bestsellers' list the other day to see what book might be worth reading next and discovered that the number one fiction book out there right now is a racy (read: seriously sketch town) novel that women are apparently passing around like candy. It's a Harlequin novel for the modern woman who has pretty much been desensitized to the usual romance novel steaminess. It bothers me that this is the crap topping the bestsellers' list.
I like to know what's going on in the world, but it feels like the news is just one incredibly sad, horrific, amoral story after another and sometimes I find myself considering starting a comfy commune, sans television, phones, internet or Wal-Mart. It sounds increasingly appealing to shut myself off from this crazy, mad world we live in.
Obviously, I don't really have any immediate plans to actually make a run for it, but I am pondering how to keep an innocent heart in this world we live in. It feels pretty close to impossible these days. And how do I protect my child's heart from all the darkness that's running rampant?
I'm reading a book called The Wilder Life about a woman whose obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder prompts her to follow in Laura's footsteps. She and her boyfriend go to all the places the Ingalls family lived, visit family gravesites, buy Laura memorabilia and read cookbooks about the pioneer food that Ma Ingalls made. This woman even orders a butter churn on eBay and churns her own butter out of whipping cream while watching Little House on the Prairie episodes. She makes her own bread yeast and bakes bread just like they made it on the wild prairie. It's a curious thing, this thirty-something woman trying very, very hard to enter into the world of a girl who lived over a hundred years ago.
I can't help feeling that this woman, having lived out her childhood in the early days of MTV and 80's sitcoms and having become an adult in a painfully modern world, wants to enter into what she calls "Laura World" so badly because of the appeal of the simple innocence that Laura represents.
I know this feeling. I want to live there, too.
What exactly does it mean to be innocent and can you be innocent without being naive or ignorant or out of touch? I think so.
I want this for Sam. I want him to have a childhood that is truly a childhood, where he can imagine and pretend and create without the weight of adult things bearing down on him.
It's a hard thing to know how to make this possible. I feel the encroaching presence of the television and the internet and advertisements on billboards and displays at the mall and magazine covers at the grocery store. All of these things threaten the innocence that I want to preserve in my little one's heart.
I want this for my own heart as well. I don't want a reclusive commune ( I was kidding about that. Sort of) or a naivete that leaves me ignorant of a hurting world, but I do want a heart that loves what is good and hates what is evil.
I realize this may require some things of me that might feel like tiny sacrifices of my personal freedom. Maybe it means I don't watch the Today Show in the morning anymore (I'm still hoping there isn't an image of Nicki Minaj's dominaitrix-inspired outfit in Sam's brain. Why would one wear that to be interviewed by Matt Lauer? Seriously, Nicki?). Maybe it means I use my time when Sam's at nursery school to shop at the grocery store instead of reading the book I want to read so that he doesn't end up viewing Cosmopolitan's cover this month "How to Dress Like a Call Girl" in the checkout line.
And, someday, when he's graduated from Thomas the Train, I plan on reading him stories about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and the Wind in the Willows and The House at Pooh Corner. And, maybe, if he's up for it, we'll read Little House on the Prairie.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Do you have any suggestions for preserving a child's innocence in an internet/iPhone/reality tv world? I could use some ideas.