The Yellow Brick Road
By Marty Norman –
One of my favorite movies as a child was The Wizard of Oz. Who couldn’t love Dorothy and Toto in Kansas? She was every little girl back in the 1950s, Schwinn bike with basket, dog in tow. That could have been me, riding down that dirt road, pigtails blowing in the breeze, dog, Mike, not in tow but at foot.
But if you take a deeper look, the movie message was in the size, type and visuals of the different roads traveled. The roads of Oz and Kansas tell us a lot about life in general.
The first road in the movie is the dirt road in Kansas. With a storm a’brewing, we see Dorothy racing against time to beat the tornado to Auntie Em’s farm. But the dirt road does not serve her well. The message: being on the dirt road leads to destruction.
The next time we see Dorothy she is waking from being knocked out by the storm. Surrounded by flowers in bright colors, she knows intuitively that this is the way to go. And if she isn’t quick on the uptake, the yellow bricks offer a directional sign. The message: if you follow the yellow brick road you will come to the magical city, meet a wizard and get your wish.
The rest of the movie depicts Dorothy’s journey down this road. We follow who she meets, what happens when she gets off the road, and who befriends and attacks her along the way. The message: if only we would take the right road and stay on its path, everything will be ok.
Contrast that with the biblical message about roads. “Enter through the narrow gate,” Matthew tells us, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14 NIV). Contrary to the yellow brick road, we discover that the wide road leads to destruction but the narrow road leads to life.
Recently I kept my two grandsons overnight, ages two and four. Per his routine, Strother, the four-year-old, likes to watch cartoons when he wakes. I try to avoid this as often as possible, but on this particular morning it was 6:00 a.m. and I just couldn’t seem to get my juices going. So I complied.
“Can we watch Sponge Bob?” he inquired, enthusiasm highlighting every word.
“How bad can that be,” I think to myself? “Sponge Bob” is pretty innocuous, right? It should be ok and I can get in a couple more minutes of shuteye.”
I was so wrong.
This particular episode was about bullying. Out of my sleepy stupor, I hear one of the main characters, I didn’t catch his name so I’ll call him Bubba, begin to take advantage of his size and bully the other kids. We started in the middle of the episode, at the point where Sponge Bob is telling his friends, “I can’t go to school today. Bubba has said he is going to kick my butt.”
Now that got my attention. My eyes popped open and I was all ears. Before I could roll over he had said it four more times. By the time I sat up, his friends were saying “kick my butt,” Bubba was saying “kick his butt,” and the teacher was saying “kick your butt.” I should have turned the TV off, but I was mesmerized, stuck in a moment of time. I decided to count the number of times I heard the phrase “kick butt.” Are you ready? Sixteen times in ten minutes. Yes, that is 16!
I was, am, and will continue to be horrified. No amount of spin, justification, excuses, or explanation will ever convince me that any child, much less a four-year-old, should be exposed to this kind of trash.
But the clincher came at the end. Bubba luckily had an epiphany, came to his senses and made friends with Sponge Bob. All was well. But in the last scene, the teacher, rather than making Bubba accountable and responsible for his actions, explained to Sponge Bob, “Don’t be mad a Bubba. It’s really not his fault. He is merely a victim of a society that is going down the wrong road.”
That’s right. Those were her exact words, “Victim of a society that is going down the wrong road.” What!
Now I don’t know about you. But in my book and according to the Scriptures I read, we are all responsible and accountable for our own actions and responses, regardless of the circumstances. Instead of passing on bad behavior, we are told to forgive and turn the other cheek. Clearly Bubba, or Bubba’s writers, hadn’t read the Scripture. The message presented was that Bubba is not responsible because he is a victim. And the perpetrator is society. Really?
I chose this topic for my column this week because I am outraged. First, I can’t believe anyone would see fit to put such a thing in an early morning cartoon when little ones are up and watching. Second, that sponsors would sponsor this. And last but not least, that anyone would think this fit for virgin ears.
Bless these precious ones’ hearts. And bless the parents who have to sit and monitor EVERY program their children watch. You just don’t know when something like “kick your butt” will sneak in. The Scriptures are clear. In the last days scoffers will sneak in and sit among us. Well grandparents, hold onto your hats. The scoffers are here and they are targeting your grandchildren. It’s time we take a stand.
I’m not sure yet what I plan to do about this. Clearly I told my son right away and he realizes it’s a big problem. I confessed that I did not jump out of the bed and turn off the TV. All I could muster was that I was in shock. I wanted to see how far they would go, and I found out -too far for my taste.
So if you are wondering which road to take next in life, let me assure you it is not the dirt road, the TV road or the yellow brick road. It is the narrow road. If you don’t know where that is, you better start looking fast – I think the tornadoes are hurling toward Kansas, and we are right in their path.