Looks can be deceiving

Michael Greene, February 5, 2001

I think that we gals and guys who learned everything we need to know way back in kindergarten have an educational jump. However, in retrospect, it seems to the Ol' Swami here that all the things we did pick up were laced with a large spoon of make-believe. I guess it's because we humans enjoy a lacing of the unreal as a spin on the realities of life. Especially with today's digital stuff, everything appears to be what they aren't.

But was it ever different? Stretching back we were treated to a healthy porridge of Aesop's Fables, Chaucer's Tales, Grimm Brothers' grimness and Little Red Riding Hood's talking wolves. Nothing new. Then, moving up in time, there was Dick Tracy seeing through concrete walls, Buck Rogers zapping about the galaxies of the 25th Century, right up to the Cro-Magnon Flintstones and the Simpsons. Not to forget the Walt Disney retinue of talking ducks and dogs. Beautiful!

But is all this imaging really for the kids? Parents buy or finance the stuff, willingly take the kids to the movies and sit in on the videos. I ask timidly, are all the magnificent drawings and rhymes of Dr. Seuss really for itty, bitty kids?

So looking at the record, it seems that for a long, long time things appeared and still appear to be what they aren't. The switch for this generation is digital stuff, instead of pen and ink. Cats dance around. Chickens complain and sing, and those ugly dinosaurs look compassionate.

And it is reported by the kids in Silicon Valley that in 2025 you'll be able to "attend" a ceo symposium in Zurich while you're shlumping around in Brooklyn in pajama tops. Unreal!

The future will look like something but it will be something else. That's nothing new: Check today's small-print insurance policies, car leases, HMO enticements and prescription drug details-they all ain't necessarily so. And every looker sees something different-such as with this tale.

A father, son and their donkey set out on a trek. The father led and the boy pulled the small donkey along. "Look at that foolish father!" an observer exclaims. "There they are with a donkey and all three are walking." So the father helps the son mount the donkey and they go on.

"Oh, no!" comments the next passerby. "What has happened to respect? A young son rides and a father walks!" So the threesome shift gears. The father climbs on and the son leads.

"Unbelievable!" cries a stranger. "A strong man rides while a growing boy walks his feet off. Is that a proper lesson?"

"Stop!" yells the father. He then dismounts, lifts the son aboard and climbs back.

"Sad, sad!" moans another traveler. "Two people aboard one tiny donkey? Is that what our Good Book teaches us about kindness?" So off go the father and boy and they gently place the donkey on the road, tie his front legs and then back legs together. And together they lift the animal onto their backs and head off.

Finally, no further roadside comments. Everyone saw the same thing: A man, a boy and a donkey on the way to the next village. Really?

Thanks, again, for listening.

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