I was leafing the other day through the children’s books from my childhood. Many of those books are actually from my mother’s childhood, so two generations grew up on them.
It is no secret that a person’s moral compass is calibrated and adjusted during one’s childhood, and depending on which books the parents read to their offspring (or don’t read at all), so will the person become in his grown-up life. I was lucky to have grown up on Russian fairy tales and the children’s rhymes and short stories of the Soviet authors. One such rhyme-book drew my attention yesterday, unconsciously, for no apparent reason.
Rereading the words, parts of the rhyme still sitting in my memory from when I learned it by heart in my childhood, I understood why. This is a poem by Korney Ivanovich Chukovsky – “Stolen Sun”. The Russian text can be read and listened to at the Chukovsky Family site, and I will present an un-rhymed translation of the verses at the bottom of this post. But why did it draw my attention?
It presents a clear concept of what to do in a dire situation – big or small, and it sets some premises for the child to learn to live by:
- realise that there is trouble
- get your act together
- try to negotiate with the wrongdoer
- and only if diplomacy fails, resort to force
And this is exactly what we see playing out on the grand geopolitical scale. Since 2007 Russia went though points 1 to 3 and is now resorting to the undesired, but unavoidable point 4.
Here are the photos of my mother’s book from 1958 with English translations below the corresponding pages. You can click on the images for the full-size versions.
The Sun wandered across the sky
And ran behind a cloud,
A hare peeked out of the window,
It was all dark to him.