Our Future Smells Like Hope
In Mary Galbraith’s essay, “Hear My Cry”, she explains that, “Children’s literature raises many ethical questions in its appeal to deep-structural truth”(Galbraith199). I felt that Galbraith’s assertion was particularly true in regards to A Wrinkle in Time, in that, “despite its uplifting tone, there is something about the book that is troubling”(Hettinga 3). Specifically L’Engle’s style is one that—as Hettinga explains—“carries risks” and causes confusion for her readers, mainly because her writing is “not tidy”(Hettinga 4). Hettinga goes on to define this “untidiness” as L’Engle’s “refusal to be pigeonholed”(Hettinga 2); however, it is this “unpredictability that some readers find unsettling that accounts for L’Engles appeal”(Hettinga 2) as a writer. Hettinga later explains that L’Engle’s style, “offers a kind of familiarity with readers that virtually invites us to address the author by her name . . . But it also, and more importantly, models how a woman of intelligence integrates her faith and her life, how she reconciles joy and sorrow, how she responds to criticism and sorts through ideas”(Hettinga 8). Encountering her own struggles in reconciling the various codes that govern her personal, religious, and social life, L’Engle builds these struggles into the very structure of her text. Hettinga explains, “in [L’Engle’s] fiction, she creates heroes and heroines who are similarly messy. Thus, when readers hear L’Engle muse about beliefs subject to change, they know what she means. It is that very struggle that she works out in the pages of her nonfiction and that her characters muddle through in her novels . . . such messiness is part of L’Engle’s appeal”(Hettinga 4). I also found it interesting that in Abernethy’s interview, he includes that, “[L’Engle] reads both the Bible and books about particle physics, and she sees no conflict between them”, viewing them as “one and the same”(Abernethy 1).
In the various articles about banning: swearing, sagged pants, and tattoos, I noticed many similarities between the implications of these bans and the banning of books. In the article “New Pentagon Rules Ban Tattoos on the Neck and Below the Elbows or Knees”, Mr. Eldrige—a US Navy veteran and owner of the Tattoo Archive-- calls these parts of the body (neck, below the elbows and knees), “public skin”(3) and therefore justifies the government’s right to control tattoos on theses areas of the body. Although, I do not condone profane tattoos, or tattoos that intend to hurt others, I feel uncomfortable referring to ANY part of the human body as “public”. By extension, it is deeming a part of the human body as government property—treading in dangerous territory that is reminiscent of slavery.
In the article, “Public Swearing Ban Cursed at Protest in Massachusetts Town”, Alon Harish includes libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul’s opinion of this ban, he writes: Paul “acknowledged in an interview today that First Amendment right are not boundless, but he said government should limit speech only when it endangers others, as cursing does not. The content of speech, he said, should not be subject to government regulation”(3). I tend to agree with Paul’s approach to this ban, because similar to the ban on tattooing (on certain areas of the body), I feel that it is inappropriate for the government to have control over our actions and personhood. Additionally, acquiring offensive tattoos, using offensive language, and dressing in an inappropriate manner does not really pose a threat on our society, but rather, these choices reflect poor decision making skills and character on behalf of the individuals themselves. Similar to the negative effects of banning literature, banning these social practices yield the same outcomes. Abernethy explains, “What you ban is not going to hurt anybody, usually. But the act of banning is”(Abernethy 1). As we frequently discuss in class, removing controversial books from library shelves is essentially removing controversial or “difficult” topics from our conversations. This is detrimental to our society because it is only through discussing these painful matters that we are able to obtain justice and peace. Also, in regards to the saggy pants articles, I think that many of the people who oppose saggy pants are missing the point. In the article, these people explain that they “passed this law…to teach the kids to be a better person” (1); however, regulating the positioning of one’s pants is not necessarily consistent with becoming a “better person”. In addition, regulating an individual’s pants, tattoos, and language of choice is only a temporary—or band-aid—solution to a much larger problem—these issues are the least of our worries. Instead, I believe we should teach people how to recognize universal humanity and how to treat others with compassion. Coinciding with my belief, L’Engle states: “Meg finally realizes . . . love is stronger than hate. Hate may seem to win for a while, but love is stronger than hate”(Abernethy 1). In order to overcome the negativity that currently exists within our society, we must combat hate with patience and more importantly: with love. If we accept L’Engle’s notion that love will ultimately drive out hate, our future “smells like hope” and that is something “we have to hang on to”(Abernethy 2).