The books you read as a child influence your outlook for the rest of your life.
Among my favourites was a series written by Johnny Gruelle. The main characters were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, who were dolls in a little girl’s room. When the child was absent, they would open a storybook and fall into it. They would meet all the characters: the big bad wolf, the three pigs — name any well-known nursery tale and Raggedy Ann and Andy would become part of the adventure and positively affect its outcome.
What was the message in these particular stories? It was that openhearted kindness could transform any nasty character into his true self: someone who wanted to have friends, to be loved, and to be good — and would be, given a little bit of understanding and maybe a little bit of help.
I still regard people this way. My personal default setting is that there is no problem so terrible that there isn’t a way to fix it. Of course I am often disappointed, not to mention somehow disbelieving, when people act horribly and when horrible events occur, and when unbearable realities persist alongside pain, grief or regret.
Acceptance is, as the saying goes, a hard row to hoe. But it’s what I’m working on these days.
Perhaps I’ll read some of these Raggedy Ann tales again, to be reminded of other moralities that entered my child mind and stayed. The books are antique now, rarely seen in a children’s library. But some can be read online: