Sunday, May 17, 2009

It Goes Without Saying...

I enjoy puzzles and games. Obviously, such diversions are a commonplace part of our culture. I just solved a puzzle. Its solution is a quote from Erma Bombeck, a humorist whom many younger folks will not know. It's not important to know who she is. Her quote is this:

    It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows.

Now, I suppose that's kind of funny in an understated way. It seems harmless enough. But, I started thinking about what it means. First, the intention I believe is to imply that parents can have too many children. Second, and of more interest to me, is the implication that parents should control how many children they have. Mrs. Bombeck jokes that the first must go without saying (although she does say it). But, it must be obvious to her that the second also goes without saying. However, neither the idea that parents must exert control over the size of their families in order to avoid having too many children nor the idea that there is such thing as 'too many children' should go without saying. These are topics well worthy of discussion.

Whatever you may think about the size of families and the use of birth control is beside the point that I am making here. This quote exemplifies the ability of popular culture to influence its participants to a particular point of view with such gentle subtlety as to go completely unnoticed by an unsuspecting audience. Everyone, no matter what their beliefs, must be vigilant against such subtle persuasion. In order to avoid being misled, we must never allow anything to "go without saying".

Can you see this principle active in your own interaction with popular culture? Please share your examples. What have you been taught (rightly or wrongly) by our culture?

No comments: