A brief rant.
A local Atlanta talk-radio host, Neal Boortz, was recently blasting the book, The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister. His contention was that the story had a sinister underlying premise about the “haves” and “have nots” of the world. The author was trying to communicate that if you are a person of means and wealth you should feel guilty about what you have and give it away to others, Mr. Boortz contended. Vehemently disagreeing that our children should be fed this retoric, the host claimed that he had read the book and that this erroneous conclusion should be very obvious to almost everyone.
If that were indeed the moral of the story, I would concur with the host. No one should be made to feel guilty because they have means or wealth. However, the Rainbow Fish book reads like this:
“But he never played with other fish. I’m too beautiful, he thought”
This sounds more like selfish pride and arrogance on the behalf of the Rainbow Fish. There is a air of superiority here.
Yet, the Rainbow fish must have felt some kind of sadness or longing for friends, because he took initiative and sought out advice:
“He went to the starfish for help. ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’ he asked”
No one “guilted” him into seeking advice. Does our local radio host think that the Rainbow Fish is disliked because he has things that the other fish do not? Maybe. But, remember the precedent set by the fish earlier — one of self-centered interest. His smug actions spoke louder than words to the other fish who, consequently, had no desire to befriend him.
Psychologists and clergymen alike will tell you, the way to deal with a selfish and self-centered attitude is to start thinking of others first. Sure, we can horde and keep all our “stuff” while we look for ways to acquire more but in the end where does it lead you? Shallow relationships? Never feeling like you have enough? Like I once heard a friend say, “You can’t take it with you. You don’t see hearses with U-Haul trailers attached.” Or as another friend once said, “Do your given while you’re livin’, so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin'”
On his own the Rainbow Fish decided to start giving. He gave one of his rainbow colored scales to a little blue fish and look at the outcome:
“The little blue fish was so pleased, it made the Rainbow Fish feel happy.”
A natural by-product of selfish people acting selflessly is happiness. Is it wrong to “have”? No. Yet what is your motivation for having? What is your attitude toward others? Sure, you can be stingy and miserly but you’ll never know the joy of giving as the Rainbow Fish learned in this story.
Finally, I do not know if it was a slow “news day” and Mr. Boortz had nothing better to discuss, but in the end remember, it’s only a children’s book.