Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lonely In America

About eight years ago, I joined some friends of mine for a pilgrimage to Connecticut to help celebrate the 16th birthday of their eldest niece.

Our plan was to stay overnight and return to Boston the next day.

As it happened, I awoke early the next morning. The only other person who was also awake at that early hour was the youngest daughter, Eliscia, who was about 6. As I sat quietly in the family room, waiting for everyone else to arise, young Eliscia brought in her 'portfolio' to show me. In it were the drawings she had made during the school year, many of which had holiday themes.

When I got to the Thanksgiving series, I asked her about the stories that went with the drawings. I could tell from the contempt in her voice that she wasn't too fond of characters whom we usually call 'Pilgrims' or 'Colonists'.

"What were they like?" I asked her. Her reply made it clear she wanted to have nothing to do with them. She even showed me one drawing in which she pictured herself flying away from the locale in question.

"Would you want to live in the same country as those people?"

"No way," replied Eliscia.

"Would you even want to go visit their land some day?"

Eliscia shook her head no.

Eventually we got through the Thanksgiving set and on to non-political themes in her portfolio.

Later, at breakfast, I mentioned to Eliscia's mother my surprising discovery about her unfavorable attitudes toward the "Land of the Pilgrim's Pride."

Incredulous, Eliscia's mother began to quiz her daughter.

"Is is true that you wouldn't want to live in America?" she asked.

Eliscia nodded her head yes.

"Why not?" asked her mother.

"We learned about the people in America, and they're not very nice."

At this point, her father broke in, "What country do we live in, Eliscia?"

Eliscia shrugged, "I don't know."

Both parents now began to ask similar questions. Eliscia clearly had no idea of the name of state she lived in or the name of her country, but she definitely didn't care for the people or the country they had been teaching her about in school all year.


Blogger Cryptic Muse said...


What an unsettling tale! I'm not sure quite how to react.

I find it curious that young Alicia should have formed such a caustic impression without an understanding of historical context – or even knowledge of her present circumstances.

I suppose I'm troubled by the implications of this incomplete education, for it seems as though we're teaching contempt without comprehension. Certainly, we cannot allow our schools to become nurseries of ignorance.

What make you of this?

10:42 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

I wasn't too surprised that Alicia, at age 6, didn't have an appreciation for the kind of political boundaries that we think of as governmental districts -- counties, states, or countries.

What she did have an appreciation of was something we might think of as tribal customs and tribal demeanor.

She clearly was aghast at the tribal customs and demeanor of the white people who had established their settlements in the land the First Graders had been studying all year in public school.

And I must admit that I, myself, am still aghast at our tribal demeanor and political customs, moreso today than compared to how white settlers comported themselves back in the days of the "Pilgrim's Pride."

3:59 AM  
Blogger monkeyhugs said...

My son, who ironically is also known as Moulton Lava, still makes broad generalizations about people and events based on what he sees and hears in school and from other outside sources. I encourage him to think about what he is saying. I ask what evidence he has to support his statements. I do my best to present different points of view for him to consider. That isn't something you can do with a 6 year old. They do not have the cognitive ability to have such a conversation. They see things black and white. Things are clearly either right or wrong.

That being said, I agree with Alicia that the American Indians were treated badly. Some things are that simple. I don't think she was taught to think Americans were bad. It is a logical conclusion for her to think so after hearing how the American Indians lost their land. History isn't always pretty and that is okay.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

There is a word in a dialect spoken in New Guinea that applies here.

The word is 'mokita' and it means the truth we all become aware of but avoid speaking about aloud.

Children remind us of some of the 'mokita' in our culture.

One wonders how many other children share Alicia's otherwise unarticulated dismay about the 'tribal customs' and 'tribal demeanor' of the American Body Politic.

8:52 AM  

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