(The final chapter of the Great Indonesian Adventures forthcoming... hang in there!)
I am the oldest and only girl of 4 kids. This means that I not only have a propensity to boss people about (I like to call it being a “natural” leader), but that I also have 3 little brothers for the bossing: Seth, 24; Nick, 21: and baby Taylor, 17. And they are good boys.
Sometimes, I contemplate this world and I contemplate its people, and can’t help but be discouraged from time to time. I tend to believe there are forces of good and forces of evil consistently in contest for dominant influence over cities, nations, and most importantly, individuals. It seems each respective side is at the height of recruitment, trying to get just one more person to ‘join their team’ in preparation for some grand ultimate battle, Armageddon, the greatest of all “Good vs. Evil” plights prophesied for mankind. In a world of relative morals, it’s difficult at time to point at something and say “this is good” or “this is evil.” We’ve become a community of “gray areas” where people live in fear of drawing a line. Society’s standards are a slippery slope and cannot be relied on as a consistent guide for discovering truth, goodness, and virtue. Many would say these virtues have died, or rather, perhaps the definition of virtue itself has changed over the centuries and is now muddled and clouded into something near unrecognizable by our grandparents, even our parents, as anything resembling what was once thought of as honorable, worthy, and even good.
These are, it would seem, confusing times. Times when we want to create individual bubbles for those most dear to us and protect them from those negative influences that would muddle their standards and cloud their well-intentioned choices. There are influences for good, and there are influences for evil, and many times, I feel the influence for evil is so pervasive, so overwhelming, I experience acute fear for those children I’ve yet to bear. I fear for those I love most now. I want to protect them all. Yes, we live in confusing times, and it all seems downhill from here.
And then, a ray of hope.
Yesterday, my mom calls me and tells me that my little brother, Taylor, snuck something home. Immediately I’m worried. What has he brought home? What do teenage boys in their angsty, self-defining, self-discovering, years of teenagedom SNEAK home. My little ‘bubble for Taylor” yearns to be stretched over him and shield out all the influence that being a teenager today brings. Protect him from the evil.
“Taylor snuck home a little orange stripped kitty…”
What? He snuck home a kitty? Yes, my tough little teenage brother, with who knows what sort of opportunities to accept drugs, alcohol, sex, and general teenage ballyhoo before him, and HE sneaks home a little kitty.
“He kept it in his room for a week,” my mom goes on to explain, “I noticed he snuck in a litter box and bought food for it. I don’t know how long he thought he could possibly hide a kitty in his room!”
By now I’m laughing in disbelief and overwhelming relief. We’re a family of animal lovers I’d say; and over the many years and 4 rowdy growing kids, have gone through kittens, dogs, ginny pigs, lizards, frogs, fish, you name it! Currently we have a stout little beagle called, Snoopy. But for Taylor, I guess he needed himself another little fuzz ball for companionship. I understand the fuzzball need as well.
“He’s named it Ludo” (from the Labyrinth… ya know… David Bowie… awesome).
Now, all I can think is this is about the cutest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. A teenager sneaking home a kitty. Amongst news headlines of teenagers involved in texting and beating other teenagers, mean girls making fun of someone so badly they commit suicide, crime, graffiti, drugs, gangs… and my sweet little brother sneaks home a kitten. A little kitten. Names it Ludo.
I found myself contemplating the significance of this event the rest of the day. It gave me hope. It made me confident in the future. It made me realize I don’t need little bubbles of protection wrapped tightly around those I care about most – because they have a little safe bubble inside themselves full of goodness. Taylor’s a good boy. Taylor will become a good man. Just like his brothers before him, he’s going to be one of the ones who chooses good instead of evil. Who has courage and does not fear. He’ll be on the right side, and there will be others there too. Some still do choose the fight for good. If there’s any gift we can give to those around us it’s not protective bubbles, it’s hope. And my little brothers give me hope for the goodness that still is.