I have written before about my feelings on guns and questions of whether or not to include them in the library or how I would handle a serious challenge. This week my mettle was tested and I am facing objections to a book that I want the school to use for a community read. I really believe in the book, but there is one illustration that depicts soldiers with guns in their hands. I am treading carefully, trying to refrain from getting into debates about personal feelings in order to provide a solely professional perspective and encourage my colleagues to make an informed decision. It is going to be difficult for me; I am not known for holding back my opinions. I understand the concerns being expressed, but I also believe that as educators we cannot avoid issues with which we are not comfortable. More importantly, as a librarian, I believe that we should not censor a book without judging the entire work out of fear of how a few parents will react to one picture. This issue will play out over the next month and I will respect the decision that my colleagues make, whether or not I agree with it.
We watched Aladdin with Isaac last night. I had wanted to watch it last weekend when Matt was out of town, but Isaac refused. We ended up watching Alpha and Omega instead. But last night Matt decided we were watching Aladdin. I am not sure why Isaac was against watching it -- I think he thought it would be too scary. What I have realized in the past two weeks watching movies with him (Alpha and Omega and Real Steel last weekend and Aladdin this weekend) is that he is starting to pick up on emotional nuances. Before, he never really reacted to the possibility of a character dying or leaving. But in Alpha and Omega when the female dog is injured in the stampede, I looked over and he was sobbing. Then in Real Steel he cried, as did I, when the father was leaving his son. Last night, he cried at the end of Aladdin when the genie was leaving. I guess I never really thought about when he would begin reacting emotionally to something he watched. But for some reason seeing him cry at a movie breaks my heart, more so even than when he cries because he has hurt himself. Maybe it is because I can do something to make the physical hurt better, or I know that it won't last that long. But the emotional hurts that he will experience as he grows up will be harder to get over and will last a lot longer.
We spent this morning working in the yard of an elderly church member who needed her leaves collected and bagged. Isaac came along and there was a group of about 10-12 people working throughout the morning. Isaac jumped right in, literally, and helped rake, bag and haul leaves to the curb. He worked alongside the adults without complaint, occasionally taking a break to drink some more milk and eye the donut box. When we had stopped for donuts, Matt was approached by a guy holding a license plate that said “JESUS.” I am not sure what the guy was trying to talk Matt into doing, but Matt informed him that we were on our way to do Jesus’ work at the house of a friend and wished him luck in his endeavors (I am paraphrasing, of course). As we worked, I thought about that and that Matt was right. This was what Jesus would have done . . . helped his neighbor, not proclaimed his name on a license plate or a bumper sticker. And that is what I hope Isaac will remember when he is older.
After raking leaves, Matt had promised Isaac we would go to The Lost Ark, an old-fashioned arcade and used video game store. They have a wall lined with pinball machines and some other older shooting, driving and assorted arcade games. I will admit, reluctant as I was to go, that it was fun. But I couldn’t help but notice that some of the pinball machines had release levers shaped like gun handles. And of course there were the games with the rifles and the violent fighting games. Then I saw the front page of the paper when I returned home, with a color picture of a Swat Team, rifles out, arresting two suspects. I sighed and folded the paper up to go watch football.