Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Little Prince - Julia

One site online gives a great synopsis of the book and gave me greater insite into this book. I now see that this book is purely to indtroduce children to philosophy. So, I guess you can say it's a childrens verson of Thoreau. :-) Check it out...

I agree with Andrea - the theme against the adults was a bit bothersome. BUT it did make me think about how I am as an adult with regards to my children. For instance, I checked myself on the part about how when kids make new friends the adults only want to know how much $$$ the dad makes. :-) I laughed at that, relieved that my first question is NOT about $$. My first question is, "What's his name?" (a seemingly important part of considering someone a friend). Ha! However, as I began to write this "essay" I realized that I did find some great gems to discuss. So, without further ado. . .

On Rearing Children
"Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people." (17) There is some truth in this statement I believe. There is a lack of this "forbearance," I believe, in our society today. Children don't show enough of this "forbearance" toward adults. However, I also believe there needs to be as much respect given to the children as well. Unlike the king (chapter 10) who commanded that everyone obey him "because I am the king," parents and adults can use their authority with a little more understanding. I think of the many times I say "no" to my children and then check myself wondering why I said no in the first place. Sometimes it is an unnecessary and too-quick response. Again, though, we do need to use our authority and help our children recognize that authority is something to be respected. I also wonder if I'm not like the protagonist who responded to the little prince with, "Don't you see - I am very busy with matters of consequence." (28) How many times have I been preoccupied with adult "matters of consequence" so much that I can't sooth my child when crying, or admire their latest art project (thought it may be the 100th one of the day), or listen to my child talk about their play date, or read them a story without having my mind caught up in mental distractions. I do believe, as I write this, that there is a valid point to be made than too many parents (adults) are absent with regards to really seeing and feeling their children around them.

On friendship
"To forget a friend is sad. Not everyone has had a friend." (18) We can continue in our discussion from our last book here if we'd like, but I'd also like to pose another question (from the site above). How do you describe a friend? I like to think of a friend the way Anne Shirley describes them: kindred spirits. A friend is someone whose relationship you know will stand the tests of time (lame wording, sorry!). No, seriously. A friend is someone you can talk to about anything. You can cry with without feeling stupid. You can share the joys of your life without a feeling of competition. A friend is someone you miss. A friend is someone who you may not see in a long time but you can pick up again just as though you'd seen her the day before. And even more, a friend is someone who even if you have a misunderstanding can forgive and be forgiven. Those are my thoughts on what a friend is. I have one friend who said, "I don't have a lot of friends - - many aquaintances, yes, but not very many friends." I think that is true. Later in The Little Prince we read, "Men have nor more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends anymore." (83-84) Such a sad statement. Is it true?

On Satisfaction
I actually loved chapter 22! I wish I could quote it all. In there it talks about the railway switchman who is sending travelers out by bundles of thousands, people who are going other places but not knowing what they are searching for. The prince then asks, "Were they not satisfied where they were?" The switchman responds, "No one is ever satisfied where he is." This may not be entirely true for everyone, but I do believe that the majority of people in this life are not satisfied with where they are. There is always something they can have or do better, somewhere better to be. And yet, nobody knows where that better place is; or once they reach that place something will happen to again make them dissatisfied. The idiom, "The grass is always greener on the other side" proves to be true time and time again. Unfortunately, the author also brings up the children vs. adult view of life again. "Only the children know what theya re looking for...They are lucky." This statement I also agree with in that as adults we do forget to look at where we are going and enjoying what we are seeing along the way. Children find joy in the little things we adults sometimes forget to enjoy ourselves!

On Beauty
The little prince believed the stars to be beautiful "because of a flower that cannot be seen" and the desert he saw as beautiful because "somewhere it hides a well ." The protagonist then remembers an old home in which he'd lived as a boy. A dilapidated home that had no value or meaning until he was told there was a buried treasure buried there. Suddenly his house was enchanted, "My home was hiding a secret in the depths of its heart....Yes...The house, the stars, the desert - - what gives them their beauty is something that is invisible." (pp. 92-93) This led me to think about what makes a home beautiful? What makes MY home beautiful? The answer is in the memories. The little things that we do as a family and the traditions that we create. Also, what makes a home beautiful is how people, particularly our children (and husbands) feel within the home. Those feelings are huge secrets that sometimes take years and years to come out of hiding into a reality.

One Final Thought
I'm going to end this long post with one final quote. "One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed.. . . " (99) This had a lot of gospel significance to me in the principle of submitting our will to the Father, in becoming truly humble, and in going through our mortal refining. We need to recognize that if we truly want to be tamed, "become as a little child, submissive, meek, humble..." we do run the risk of shedding some tears (temporally and spiritually). It is up to us to decide if we are going to plead as the fox so humbly did, "Please - - tame me!" (83)

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