|Strangled by Dark Emotions|
Photo of honeysuckle vine along the Merrimack
CC Jean Stimmell: 4/16/16
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
A version of this photo-essay was published in the Concord Monitor
Defending Fairy Tales from the National Rifle Association
Katy Burns alerted us in last Sunday’s Monitor Forum about how the NRA has started rewriting Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales to give them “happy endings.” The NRA revisions promote the notion that if only victims, like Little Red Riding Hood, were packing a gun, they could have triumphed over evil.
Rewriting Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales is wrong on so many levels. To start with, the NRA is defiling a classic work of literature, praised by the likes of W. H Auden as one of the founding works of Western culture. And ethically and spiritually, it feels to me like blasphemy to replace the timeless wisdom of fairy tales with the naked assertion that might-makes-right.
I will admit that, on the surface, fairy tales – like the NRA – do indeed simplify the world by separating it totally into black and white. They are populated with people who are one-dimensional: either completely good or bad. The NRA has created “happy endings” by taking this one-dimensional thinking to a whole new level: Just shoot the bad guy and the problem is solved.
However this upends the deeper meaning of fairy tales which, in the final analysis, bear witness to how rash action and violence don’t solve problems but create bigger ones. For example, remember what happened when President Bush quickly declared victory after his military invasion of Iraq, announcing to the world: “Mission Accomplished!”
Fairy Tales have a different mission. They externalize the bad guys, the evil ones, not to blow them away but to create a safe space for children and adults alike to ponder the true nature of our feelings. By having this safe place to process our dark, underlying emotions, we gain the wisdom to see that this cursed shadow we are wrestling with is often a projection of our own dark impulses – not an external enemy.
Like religion, fairy tales can awaken us to the truth that the evil we wish to banish, more often than not, resides not in the world outside but within the recesses of our own heart. They also teach us how to come to terms with the unpredictable nature of change in our lives.
Fairy tales teach children and adults alike about the uncertainty of life and dangers that are always lurking, poised to jump out and confront us at any moment. That is the nature of life: we can’t escape. Despite our multitude of material goodies and high tech gadgets, we all still grow old, get sick, and die. Shit continues to happen. Some would say now more than ever.
The role of a fairy tale is to give us hope and reassurance by reconnecting us to our childhood feelings of awe and respect for life as a miraculous process – not to be confronted with a snarling threat, as if in a Clint Eastwood movie: Go Ahead, Make my Day.
In essence, fairy tales are metaphorical and mythological: their function is to teach us that despite ever-present possibilities of impending danger and misfortune, we must keep on growing and moving forward to reap our reward. In Shakespeare’s memorable words, Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Friday, March 4, 2016
|Zen Reflections at River's Edge|
CC Jean Stimmell: 3/4/16
On this raw, snow-flurry day,
Mother Nature gives us hope
that spring will soon be here
by showcasing exquisite Zen paintings
along the banks of the Merrimack –
not of cherry blossoms
but ice crystals.
not of cherry blossoms
but ice crystals.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
|Winter Turtle at Northwood Meadows Park|
CC Jean Stimmell: 3/1/16
Talking to Turtle just as I found him – neither posed nor photoshopped –
basking on his favorite rock, though summer has long passed.
Oh Turtle, why do you stand frozen
above the ice-covered waters?
Why have not you made your seasonal return
to restore yourself in the warm, muddy depths?
What do you symbolize? What do you represent
in these perilous times of global upheaval
and climate distress?
Thursday, February 18, 2016
|Trree Root Labyrinth|
CC Jean Stimmell: 2/18/16