Monday, September 8, 2008
"Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true."
It is generally thought that Sherlock Holmes, that canny fellow of literature, used to regularly proclaim "elementary, my dear Watson!" at precise moments of revelation.
It is, however, a myth that ought to be dispelled swiftly: Holmes never uttered such a phrase in any of the Arthur Conan Doyle books- it found its origins only in the films featuring the detective and his trustworthy companion.
It causes no grief, I am sure, to eradicate the Holmes myth from common thought; some will be surprised while others will shrug amiably and get on with their day.
That being said, there are certain fabrications and figments that one ought to avoid clarifying: the following tale serves to illuminate just one.
I grew up in a time and place where believing in Santa Claus up to the age of twelve was considered appropriate and healthy.
My brother was aged eleven when his teacher suddenly questioned the common sense of the little people in front of her.
"Don't tell me any of you still believe in Santa Claus!" she sneered. I suppose that there had been some sort of catalyst for the outburst but it has long since faded from record.
I cannot speak for others who sat in the classroom on that day of revelation but my brother's heart was broken there and then. He went home in a blind fury, not sure who to focus his anger on and not certain which was more devastating: the myth that had been delivered to him all his life, or the untimely- and wholly misplaced- shattering of it.
We are all equipped with the ultimately useful tool of conscience as well as the ability to judge circumstances that arise.
It is not noble to undo the beliefs of others either for entertainment or to elevate one's status. Children unequivocally assume that their teachers possess authority, and as such it is not necessary to emphasise the divide by belittling the daydreams of inexperienced youngsters or dishing out a lesson that is, in truth, best left to the right person at the right time.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 9:05 AM