Friday, March 09, 2007

The Boy With No Candy - a children’s story

Category: Issue 6, Short Story Winners

In the land of beautiful children there was much merriment and play. All the children would hold hands and dance around the beautiful flowers. And they would sing songs and play games. And they would eat the fruits and nuts from the never-ending bowl, and they would all bring candy to share with one another as a treat. They dressed in beautiful colorful clothing, and they all wore new shoes.

One day a new boy came to watch them play. But his clothes were all raggedy and torn and dirty; and he was not good-looking like all the other little children were. They saw him as they danced and played their games, but no one said anything. They could tell that he was different, not like them; and that was a surprise to them, to see someone who was different, not beautiful or wearing pretty clothes. They seemed unsure of what to do, but they thought if they just ignored him and didn’t look at him or his dirty clothes then maybe he’d go away. After a while the new boy went away.

But the next day he came back and watched the beautiful children playing again. The children all saw him there standing quietly by himself, and then one of them said “do you want to join us?” “Yes” he replied. Then another child spoke up. “Did you bring candy?” she asked. Her name was Morita, and she wasn’t as smart as some of the others, but she made up for it by carefully memorizing all the rules. That way if someone forgot or didn’t follow one of the rules, Morita would quickly remind them; and that made her feel like she was just as smart as the others.

“I have no candy” said the new boy. “Then you can’t play” replied Morita “those are the rules.” The new boy watched them for a while and then went away again. Some of the other children were not so sure of how Morita had handled this, but they didn’t say anything because she was the one who always reminded everyone of the rules. And no one wanted to challenge her, because then she might find some rule that they had broken. So it was best to leave her alone.

The next day the beautiful children were all playing again, all dancing and singing around the beautiful flowers. And again the new boy came to watch them, quietly standing by himself a short distance away. And as the children saw him there again, they were no longer surprised by his presence or by his ugly tattered clothes or even by his homely appearance. They stopped singing and playing for a moment and looked at him. They were uncertain of what they should do. But finally one of them said “why don’t you bring some candy? Then you could play with us.”

“I don’t have any” replied the new boy. “Why not?” asked another of the beautiful children. This seemed to interest all the children, and they walked toward the new boy, trying to find a way to understand him. “Why do you wear such ugly clothes?” asked one of the beautiful children as they came nearer. “Yeah” said another child “and why are you so…” then she stopped herself in mid-sentence and blushed but hastily added “why don’t you get some candy from your mother?” “Or your father?” asked another child. “Or bring some from home” said another.

As they surrounded the new boy they were surprised now to find out that not only was he not a good-looking child, and that his clothes were even uglier and dirtier than they had appeared in the distance, but also he didn’t smell good. In fact he smelled bad, and this was something very strange to the beautiful children. They had never known a child to smell bad, and all they could think of was that it was somehow like the garbage that people threw out. That was what the new boy smelled like to them. The beautiful children didn’t know what to make of this, but one of them asked “why don’t your parents take better care of you?”

“I don’t have any” replied the new boy. “Where’s your father?” asked one of the boys. “I don’t have a father” said the new boy. “Why not?” they asked. “I never did” he said, unable to explain it to them. “Well then, what about your mother?” asked one of the girls. “She’s in prison” said the new boy. It seemed to the beautiful children that the new boy was nothing but problems and troubles, but being children, they persisted, trying to find the bright side to things. “So who do you live with” they asked him “where is your home.” “I don’t have one” he said. “I used to live with relatives, after my mom went away; but the occupational army killed them and then bulldozed our house.”

The beautiful children were not familiar with geo-political issues, but they were an optimistic bunch of kids. “You can come and stay with us” said one boy. “Yeah” said a little girl “and my mom can be your mom.” “And my dad can be your dad” said another. “And you can take a bath” they told him “and get some clean clothes.” “And bring some candy” said Morita. The new boy was amazed by their responses. “You are all so good” he told them “so generous and kind; but you must understand, no one could ever give back all that has been taken away from me.”

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Old Comments

  • I think students should be educated using money intended by those *who earned it* to fund their education.

    I think freeways would be great if they were really free.  Since they can’t be, I want to know how much they cost me, and I want to choose whether or not to pay for them.  Package deals and other kinds of deals would probably emerge.  I do actually pay to ride a train, and I use a bicycle to get to work.

    I know the cost of leaving people uneducated, and that is partly why I’d like to see the public education system replaced with something more effective, something on the order of private universities, something that makes it very clear to those spending money just how effective their expenditures are, and provides them with some way to change how they spend that money when they see it used poorly.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/16  at  12:57 AM
  • I don’t know about shooting horses or children, but I think they shoot people that don’t pay taxes. Either that or take all their toys away and put them in a cell with Big Bubba where the real fun starts.

    Taxes are bad, mmmmmkay!

    Oh crap. Did I just write that out loud. I just bought a one way ticket to Gitmo for sure.

    Posted by deminizer  on  03/16  at  08:51 PM
  • “I think freeways would be great if they were really free.  Since they can’t be, I want to know how much they cost me, and I want to choose whether or not to pay for them.  Package deals and other kinds of deals would probably emerge.  I do actually pay to ride a train, and I use a bicycle to get to work.”

    Suppose someone, let’s call him or her “Micky” cos it’s a unisexual name, or whatever… is rilly rilly rich and powerful, plus stupid and uneducated and selfish.  Suppose everyone in Micky’s country who is rilly rich and powerful is also stupid and uneducated and selfish.  (Could happen.  Arguably, has.) Most likely it’s going to result from that that Micky and Micky’s rich, powerful, stupid, selfish buddies are going to brutishly force the rest of the populace into serfdom or slavery or, at least, tax-paying status. 

    But let’s suppose that somehow this has been precluded in our hypothetical society.  This is a hypothetical, non-tax-paying society.  NOBODY pays taxes in this society.  Everybody gives freely to the causes they figure are worth it. 
    So, uh… the widow gives her penny to the Church, and Micky and company give all their money (the money they’re not spending on lunches and food and fancy clothes for themselves) to the funding of Private Schools, in which the curriculum is, well, let’s say, serves the status quo.  It does not occur to Micky and company to provide scholarships or any suchlike to the poorer people; nor does this suggestion ever arise in the context of any of the Private Schooling they fund.  The schools THEY went to did not have any courses designed to make them think about this stuff.  So the people with the money and the power keep on funding only that which is in their interests.  And the widows usually end up with a penny or so to contribute…

    One could try arguing that it IS in Micky’s interests to fund education for the masses, and that therefore this might appear in the curriculum, but I’m dubious.  Most plausibly, it’s NOT in Micky’s IMMEDIATE interests to give what might otherwise be Micky’s nice lunch money to underpriviledged potential students. It might be in Micky’s very long-term interests—eg. maybe it will prevent a civil war in her grandson’s lifetime.  But people are notoriously reluctant to worry about things that are not immediately or directly related to them, or are far in the future. 

    I don’t blame Micky, because Micky is just a function of, and is perpetuating the system s/he was raised in.  What I worry about is the assumption that people will make right, reasonable choices that aren’t in their direct and immediate self-interest, unless, well, somehow coerced into doing so. 

    Dave always uses himself as an example of someone who would be happily willing to pay for things that would improve things overall—he just wants to be able to choose which things to pay for.  I don’t mind that, because Dave has been to Nite Skool, and seems to be a nice guy.  What I do worry about is what would happen if we left all the (so-far-uneducated, not-so-nice) other people to their own devices.  I just don’t see the people that watch Jerry Springer on a regular basis making an informed decision about which private schools to fund.  Let’s face it, they aren’t going to fund ANY.  They often don’t even bother to finish public school themselves. 

    Why not? 

    I’d like to start in the middle, with a bunch of reasonable, ethical, educated and thoughtful people, and then… I would be more optimistic about abolishing taxation.  But we aren’t in the middle.  We don’t even have a consensus about what counts as reasonable, ethical, educated and thoughtful, apart from the consensus we get by voting in elections to elect governements which take and use our tax dollars in various ways.  That’s very limited accountability, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

    Posted by julianyway  on  03/19  at  11:36 PM
  • Have to keep posting twice because I’m so long-winded. Sorry!

    “I think students should be educated using money intended by those *who earned it* to fund their education.

    It’s interesting to contemplate deciding what counts as “earning” money, and who counts as having “earned” it.  There’s a Dollar Store here in town where everything costs a dollar.  You can buy EVERYTHING there.  You can get all your soaps, shampoos, building supplies, cleaning supplies, cutlery, art supplies, books, CDS, stuffed toys, scarfs, socks, batteries, camera film… each item is a dollar.  A lot of the stuff comes from China.  Some of the items are pretty complex—complete working music boxes that play three different songs, clocks, watches… working items with lots of moving parts.  I look at these things and marvel:  You’d think it would cost more than a dollar just to PACKAGE this item, much less manufacture this and ship it here.  But at any rate, SOMEBODY’s been working pretty hard, and it only cost ME a dollar for the watch, which is cheapish, but works fine. 

    I wonder who “earns” the money that runs this machine.  I wonder what made the watch worthwhile to make, and to whom.  I hope nothing got “taken away” from any little kids anywhere, just so that I could have this watch, and save money by going to this Dollar Store.

    Posted by julianyway  on  03/19  at  11:36 PM
  • Not hypothesis, but fact. Canada and the US have marvelous educational systems; but most people aren’t wise. Most of the world’s AID’s victims live in southern Africa; but we don’t have that wildfire under control. In the movie “Syriana” an Al Queida-like character says “the West has failed.” But we don’t look to ourselves or our government or our global corporations, as a cause for Al Queida.

    Children in southern Lebanon die from US-made Israeli cluster bombs. The parents ask why. They can’t fathom this. Why would the Americans hate them? Thousands die on 9/11 and we can’t fathom why anyone would do that; why they would hate us so. We live in a world of foul facts, and we should be taught about them. They impact us.

    The Brits prevented the planes from being blown-up at Heathrow. And after eight hours on the tarmac, my granddaughter and I flew home safely. But I don’t want such a foul world as this for her to grow up in. The little boy with no candy is a clear and present danger.  And it is preventable.

    Posted by Mikael Covey  on  03/20  at  12:09 AM
  • A good thought provoking tale with themes.  I liked it.  Layered meaning beneath the surface of the literal plot is always interesting to read.  Something to make people think…

    Posted by Jay76  on  03/20  at  10:42 AM
  • Seems as if this story has made us think… Is there some way of getting this dialogue in chronological order, Dave?
    I feel like I just stumbled out of “Slaughterhouse Five.”

    Posted by julianyway  on  03/27  at  12:15 AM
  • I recently changed the code so that the comments always come up in chronological order.  If it doesn’t work for you, let me know.  I *think* you didn’t realize I changed it and if you had, then you’d have been pleasantly surprised.  Anyway, I’ve been thinking about Micky and how lucky/unlucky s/he is to have so much and yet be such a knucklehead.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/27  at  01:11 PM
  • Now I REALLY feel dazed and confused… as if Slaughterhouse Five is somehow… over!?

    Nah.  But yah.  At least I can think straighter.

    *“Anyway, I’ve been thinking about Micky and how lucky/unlucky s/he is to have so much and yet be such a knucklehead.”*

    Any ideas?  Let’s fix Micky!

    Posted by julianyway  on  03/28  at  01:24 AM
  • By the way, YAY DAVE!  (And my poodle thanks you too!  Seriously!)

    Posted by julianyway  on  03/28  at  01:25 AM
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