Disclaimer: This is the post that won’t go away, keeps insisting on being written. Sometimes these stories do that–demand to be told. I can tolerate a lot of things but not intolerance. So here it goes.
Today was Grand Opera House Day. I love live theater as I have mentioned before here. So knowing this was coming up, I was excited. I rarely tell my littles where we are going ahead of time–I learned my lesson one too many times when plans had to be changed. We made the drive up to Macon with them guessing. It was funny the guesses they made. Finally Cooter said, “I bet it’s the Grand Opera House.” I asked him why. “Because you made me wear long pants and a nice shirt.” Ahh, that would be correct.
The performance was very unique and entertaining. It was The Tortoise and the Hare and The Ugly Duckling performed in Lightwire, a style I believe was created by the performers. Performed in complete darkness, the characters were outlined and illustrated (for lack of a better word) with these colored lines that seemed to glow. The Tortoise and the Hare was hilarious, set to classical music and some classic hits as well, as the hare became so distracted by his cell phone, a tv and remote, and a bunch of carrots. (One of my favorite parts was that my children recognized and were excited by the tv theme songs from Gilligan’s Island and The Andy Griffith Show–yeah, we’re just that old school.) In the time between the two shows, a worm came out and danced to “U Can’t Touch This.” Young and old (ahem) alike were clapping and laughing and dancing in their seats.
It’s been a while since I read the Ugly Duckling. The closest I’ve come to it lately was watching The Ugly Dachshund with the littles all over again. (Old Disney classic–if you haven’t watched it you should.) Oh y’all. This story broke my heart. To the sound of classical music and songs from The Nutcracker, the little swan was born in the wrong nest and was turned away by the Mama Duck and her four new little baby ducklings. The baby swan tried and tried to play and be friends, but they all turned their backs and shook their heads no. In one poignant scene, the baby swan walked around sadly while “I Am Beautiful” sung by Christina Aguilera played. I was close to tears.
“I am beautiful
in every single way
Words can’t bring me down”
And I guess what broke my heart is that we all know words can. It seems more and more incomprehensible stories of bullying and the aftermath of it are being shared, and these horrors and heartbreak should NOT be happening.
As I sat listening to the song thinking how we do bring each other down with our words, Facebook came to mind. Particularly some posts I’ve seen the past couple of days. There is a rumor going around locally that Honey Boo Boo might be moving into the area with her family and possibly attending a local elementary school. Most of the comments were unkind and unfavorable and may I also say, unfair, in my opinion. What made me saddest was these were people I know are caring and loving. I’m just not sure where these comments were coming from but surely it wasn’t from their hearts. I’ve seen that their hearts know better, but in their words about this, it didn’t show. For goodness’ sake, she is a CHILD. They are human beings. Just like all the rest of us.
Here’s the deal. Honey Boo Boo is a reality tv show. She is a “character,” and from what I hear, a lot of the reality shows that fill our living rooms these days are scripted and directed to go in a certain direction. Here’s what I do know. This is a family of hospitality. They welcome folks to come see them, and they support their community through food and toy drives for one example. People who have met them in person have shared how nice they thought the family was. Can they be crass? Sure. Have they made choices different from what I would have? Okay, yes. Are they bad people I wouldn’t want living in my neighborhood? I have to say no. (Maybe Mama June would be my new BFF forevuh–Aub says I squint like her even with my glasses on.) I’m afraid we are turning into a hypothetical “Love thy neighbor” society. Love my neighbor. Except for that swan that showed up out of nowhere. And that crazy reality tv show family. But other than that, yeah, love my neighbor just like the Good Book says.
No one is all good or bad. Not a single one of us. It’s all gray as I’ve come to realize more and more. I don’t like it anymore than anyone else. I wish I could put folks in a Good box or Bad box. But it’s just not reality. Reality is a family that burps and loves the mess out of each other. Reality is a swan that is born in the midst of a bunch of ducks and just wants to be accepted. Yes her honk is a lot louder and not very pretty, but she is strong and brave and cares enough to save the baby duckling from that mean cat (who later worked out his angry issues and changed for the better).
At the end of the play today, they made me a very happy girl. They closed with the baby swan and a duckling and the cat and Mama Duck all dancing together to Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”
Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth?
Ooh heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We’ll make heaven a place on earth
In this world we’re just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby I was afraid before
But I’m not afraid anymore
I loved this song when I was back in college. Turns out I still do. Today as I watched the glowing critters dancing and making nice together, the words really hit me full force. We can make heaven a place on earth by loving each other and pushing out the fears–fear of folks who are different and who believe or act differently than us.
The thing is our children are listening. Those same children who heard Mama or Daddy pitching one more fit tonight that Honey Boo Boo and clan might be moving to town are the same ones who will turn their backs on her or whisper behind their hands at school tomorrow. Those baby ducklings didn’t shake their heads and turn their tail feathers at that baby swan because they just knew how. They were watching Mama Duck and following her lead. And so it goes with all of us.
I’ve become more aware of how much my children are watching me and what I say I believe and I’m hearing it come back to me as little echoes. Sometimes I am pleased, but others I am not. I know better, I’ve got to do better. I am starting to understand the “miracle of living” and I think it might just be loving all folks, whatever they believe, however they live. I don’t have to act like them, I don’t have to agree with them, I just have to be kind and to love them. And if we could do that, we could be well on our way to bringing heaven to our earth. And wouldn’t that be something?