Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jack and the Capitalist Beanstalk

Emma and Nathan love for me to tell stories to them. Usually we tell stories at bedtime, but lately they've started asking for stories at breakfast. In conversation the other morning, FEE,FI,FO,FUM, came up. Somehow.  Please don't ask me how .That's just how it is with a 3 and 5 year old. Anyway, it reminded me of the story, and so I started the story of Jack and the Beanstalk....not really remembering all the parts...kind of making it up as I went along.  You may have heard the version of the wife bringing the giant his 14 lasagnas before he fell asleep....

When I got to the end however, I wasn't sure what to do. I realized in telling this story to them  how awful it is. First of all, Jack is lying to his mother, sneaking out of the house and going into a strangers house.  Then he has the audacity to steal from the giant. At the end of the story he kills the giant for tying to get back his things. What?!
I quickly changed the ending to the giant falling down, not getting hurt, and they never bothered eachother again.

The next morning, the kids asked me to tell them the story again.  I knew I had to change the ending...but wasn't sure what to do.  When I came to the end, I changed it to ...
"Jack cut down the beanstalk, the giant fell. Jack went to apologize for taking his things. You see, Jack was very poor. He was very hungry. He didn't have food or any money to buy food. The giant said it was okay, and went home."   So I guess being poor gives you the right to lie and steal? I'm not judging...I've never been hungry, but I do believe that what comes around goes around. God will bless you if you are honest. 

Now as Christians, we are called to share with others in need. So in that case the Giant should have shared. But his wife did feed Jack, and he showed his gratefulness by stealing. Just because the Giant had more, doesn't mean he was required to share it all. Right?

So...the next time they asked for the story, I changed the ending to......
"Jack felt horrible about what he'd done. He said to the Giant, "Giant, I am sorry. I was hungry and scared and I didn't know what to do. Please forgive me. Can I please repay you by coming up and painting your castle and washing your windows and fixing your golden harp?"  My kids thought this was HILARIOUS.  I hope it is because of the thought of Jack trying to reach those giant windows to wash them, and not because having to pay for what you want is a silly idea!

So all this got me thinking about what is going on with our government, our president, and his socialist agenda....

and how each of my endings sort of symbolized a type of economy.

The capitalist version, would be my own version of a happy ending...the one that I will teach my children.

I guess a communist/socialist version would be where the Giant had to give all his money to the government, and the government dished it out to who they felt worthy...(themselves). Or maybe the Giant is supposed to respresent the government..... Either way, the Giant is WRONG for having more, and Jack, being less fortunate, is ENTITLED to what the Giant has.

You know, I have heard this story all my life. As a child, I never gave much thought to it. I knew what Jack did was wrong.  I don't think telling our children the original version of this story is going to one day be the determining factor of their economic philosophy. It's just a story. But  I do think it is something to think about.

 This story is a folktale that supposedly came to London from the Vikings in the 1700's....a time when there was definate class warfare. Definate poor and rich.  In the original, adult only version,  Jack brutally killed the giant (he didn't kill him by cutting down the beanstalk), and was forever cursed with blood stains on his hands. Years later, a "moral" version of the story was told.  A fairy came and told Jack that is was the Giant who had killed his father, so Jack justified in what he did. So the lesson is "two wrongs DO make a right?"

When I hear this story, and the philosophy of "take from the rich and give to the poor" it makes me wonder is this is not where we are headed? Are we moving backwards to the times of peasants and royalty?  Is this what we want? It seems that our society only rewards those that can cheat the system..."stick it to the man." (I Hate that phrase!)  Hard work and perserverence are no longer rewarded.  WE are the man. The government is not the man. Try to cheat the government, we're only cheating eacother. What happened to the American dream?Our Declaration of Independence states that we are "endowed by our Creator certain unalieinable rights, that among these are  life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. It is not the governments job to guarantee our happiness and success!!    Had Jack grown up in early America, he would not have had to rely on magic beans, nor would he have chosen to do so. He would have been ashamed to take the easy way. He would have worked hard. Or when life had handed him a handful of beans, he would have made bean soup, or sold them, or grown them and started his own Castle in the Sky Construction Company.

I really hope that one day my children will tell my version of the story to my grandchildren, and they will laugh for all the right reasons. 

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