I sometimes wonder if the axioms of life that I was taught as a child might be incorrect, if we do a disservice by teaching our young that the world is the way that we want it to be rather than how it actually is.
The tortise and the hare teach that perseverence, patience and desire trump ability and that the underdog can triumph.
The fable of the puppy on the bridge and the myth of Narciccus teach that greed and vanity only rob one of what is truly valuable.
The Emperor's New Clothes is all about the daftness of the powerful and the honesty of youth.
The tale of Stone Soup shows that a community will come together in times of need.
But, the real world is not so pretty. As much as we would like these things to be true, often, they are not. Perseverance must be tempered by realism lest one make the same mistakes infinitely. Talent often trumps desire. Victory and success are, as often as not, the pickings of the ruthless and the treacherous. The guilty often go unpunished and appearances, not integrity, are everything. The meek shall not inherit the Earth. The underdog rarely triumphs.
We glorify the inglorious every day when we worship at the feet of sports heroes. We validate greed and vanity in our nationwide obsessions with beauty and wealth. We value celebrity and notoriety over humanity and humility. We exalt the vain, the greedy, the self important, the daftly beautiful, the disrespectful, the powerful but feckless and the dishonest and we pretend that they are the ideal of success.
All the while we keep telling ourselves and our children these stories, these parables and fables of a world we would like and not the world we have wrought.
I am not suggesting that there isn't ample room in the world for idealism. In fact, I think idealism is something that we need, something that fuels the soul. That is why so much of the literature and film meant for adults echoes these same themes. I just wonder how much we set ourselves up for disappointment. I wonder how much better the world might be if we acknowledged our own shortcomings as a race and worked to make the world the way we would want it to be rather than just telling stories. Then again, I'm just another of those storytellers.