Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cautionary Tales

I was talking with a friend about fairy tales lately. Among many other purposes, fairy tales once provided children with memorable warnings. The stories cautioned young listeners about certain aspects of humanity and about the necessity for humility and courtesy to strangers. When I wondered aloud whether a modern equivalent exists (do we tell cautionary tales to our children today, or just inspirational tales?) my friend pointed out that the modern world is full of cautionary tales. However, they are all for the parents.

Nowadays, it is generally the parents who are supposed to worry about strangers, dangers, and rustling noises in the woods. Not children. Children mustn't be exposed to darkness in their stories, lest they be alarmed. Not, at least, until they are old enough for the YA section.

I wonder why we do this. Being me, of course I think that all the adult cautionary tales and safety obsession is connected to other ideas, which are connected to other ideas, which show us what some of the problems in the modern world are. I'm working on an article about that.

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