Tuesday, July 1, 2008

There are times when I feel like one of the Baudelaire children

Maybe some of you will understand. The Baudelaire children are the protagonists from a series of books (and let's not forget, the movie) entitled Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I haven't yet read the books - my son recommends them highly - but have seen the film, so my late night musings this particular time around are based strictly on my memories of the movie.

Now, I suppose about now you're wondering why I am making that statement, and perhaps more importantly, why am I wasting time blogging when I should be completing a few more tasks for the upcoming family vacation. As always, I'm glad you asked. I see in the movie (and I'm supposing the same will be true for the books), some social commentary. The basic premise goes something like this: the Baudelaire children, recently orphaned, are targeted by an evil, cruel individual named Count Olaf, who wants to get access to their inheritance. Although the three kids can suss out that Count Olaf is up to no good, and couldn't possibly be a legit relative, those adults who are supposed to be their guardians, their advocates, cannot seem to grasp that basic concept - no matter how often the kids repeat it. Those rare adults who do manage to understand the danger posed by Count Olaf fail to understand just how dangerous he actually is, and manage to meet their untimely demise as a result. Even on occasion when Olaf faces punishment for his crimes, he seems to come out relatively unfazed.

To cut to the chase: there are at least a couple Count Olafs running for President this year. If either one gets his wish, he will be capable of perpetrating catastrophe of potentially epic proportions - certainly on par with the current Count Olaf. Some of your humble bloggers are those Baudelaire children trying desperately to point out the obvious, and find that either the targets of our message fail to understand, don't want to understand, or manage to understand somewhat but underestimate and dismiss the seriousness of the situation. The usual institutions that are supposed to protect fail entirely, much as the agencies that should have looked out for the Baudelaires failed them. If any of the Olafs actually get punished (i.e. they or their party fail to be elected), the punishment is simply not enough to deter further malicious behavior.

So yes, if I seem a bit more curmudgeonly and pessimistic than usual, that will have to serve as an answer.

Certainly, there is a deeper subtext to the story about how we as adults consistently fail our own kids, as well as the kids in our communities, and how those failures are manifested in ruthlessness in some and a sort of myopia in others that becomes self-perpetuating. Thanks to a fellow blogger, I'm getting the distinct impression that the work of psychologist Alice Miller would be quite relevant - which reminds me that aside from poking around and reading what is available on the internet (her website is worth visiting), I'll be wanting to read some of her books. Soon.

Vale. Be well, and I will try to post up a blurb or two between now and the mid-week departure.

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