Monday, March 18, 2013

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain


Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
-Dr. Seuss

We saw the new Oz movie recently.  I am not sure any adaptation will ever live up to the original, but the movie did manage to bring out some new ideas. The 1939 film classic and L. Frank Baum’s 1901 book both deal with themes of self-doubt. The Lion, although courageous in his actions, doesn’t believe he is brave. The Tinman, reduced to sentimental tears, doesn’t believe he has a heart. Of course the solution driven scarecrow needed a diploma to believe he had a brain.

In this new version of the story, self-doubt plays out as an insincere wizard, who wants to be great, but doesn’t believe he is  good. Oz thinks of himself as nothing more than a flim-flam carnival trickster. He only pretends to care about others so he can use them to his gain, because that is what tricksters do.

As I focus this month on childlike sincerity, I never fully made the connection between insecurity and insincerity until now.  My 4-year old daughter might say” “Hello Mom! They both mean trust.” My son would probably say: “Really Mom? Isn’t it Captain Obvious?”.

I thought if you had good intentions that made you sincere. No matter how noble your motivation, if you don’t trust in yourself, no one else will either. No matter how much practice you put into mastering your illusions, people will eventually spot the strings.  No matter how much you want to act with sincerity, your actions will always match your beliefs about who you are.

Can you invest a little faith in you?

For today’s “Sky’s the Limit” on what you can learn: The politics of Oz. More than sixty years after the book went to print, a high school teacher came up with a political interpretation of the story. Henry Littlefield published an article saying the story is about the political debate over the gold standard that was taking place when the book was written. The yellow brick road represented the gold standard. The tornado that swept Dorothy up represented the Free silver movement. The Emerald City represented the political center of the debate. The Wizard represented the president. The Scarecrow represented the farmer. The Tinman represented the dehumanized worker of the industrial times. The Cowardly Lion represented the leader of the silver movement. The wicked witch of the west represented the railroad and oil interests. The Wicked Witch of the East represented greedy bankers. Baum never confirmed this theory.

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