Are we missing out by being too sensitive?

Published 8:07 pm Friday, October 6, 2017

My oldest daughter has always loved the poetry of Shel Silverstein, and as a mother wanting to support her young love of verse, I bought several of his books.

One of Silverstein’s most notable and one of my daughter’s favorites was “The Giving Tree.”

The other night I went to our study and pulled the book from the shelf to reread it.

For those not familiar with the book, it is about a boy and a tree.

The poem starts out with the boy enjoying playing around the tree and the tree loving the boy, but as time progresses and the boy reaches different stages of his life, so too does the relationship between the boy and tree evolve.

Like most poems, one is always looking for the underlying meaning of its words, as is the case with “The Giving Tree.”

There are many thoughts that someone reading Silverstein’s message in his poem could take away.

Some see the poem as a statement to preserve the Earth while others see it as a demonstration of greed.

As the boy grows older, he is always asking the tree to give something to him until one day the only thing left of the tree is a stump.

However, each and every time the boy came to ask something of the tree, she was glad to see him.

My curiosity got the best of me as to what my daughter had taken away from the story, so I called her yesterday to ask how she interpreted the meaning of Silverstein’s poem.

She said she interpreted the story as one of a symbiotic connection. Both the boy and the tree were receiving something out of the relationship.

One book, many perceptual meanings, how apropos for the culture we are living in.

This week, football player Cam Newton was asked a questions about the “routes” that were run during a football game.

The question happened to be asked by a female sports reporter and Newton’s comments were it was “funny to hear a female talk about routes.”

Some have seen his statement as one of disrespect for females while some like me probably view it as an innocent comment possibly made from his childhood days on the playground.

I know when I was younger, there were not a lot of girls tossing footballs and I certainly had no idea what a “route” was.

Am I sexist?

Our culture has become so hungry at looking for missteps of sexism and racism and all the other isms, I feel like somehow we are missing our
real opportunity to bring people together.

We first need to try to understand backgrounds and cultures and religions more in depth. Instead of having politicians or media spout off what is correct, I would be more inclined to ask sociologists and theologians their take on behaviors and how our culture can learn from our differences and not judge our differences.

On the book jacket of “The Giving Tree” it states, “This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.”

We should all want to seek this message.
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at terri.frazier@vicksburgpost.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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