Many years ago, when the girls were much younger, I ran across a wonderful book called “Many Moons” by James Thurber.  It is the story of a young princess who falls ill one day after a “surfeit of raspberry tarts”.  The Royal Physician sends for her father the King, who tells her that he will get her anything that her heart desires.  The princess tells the King that if she can have the moon, “I will be well again”.

So the King sends for his Wisest Men, and he asks each of them how he can get the moon for his daughter.  Each of them in turn tells the King of the many things that they have gotten for the King in the past, and then each of them tells the King that the moon is very large and much too far away (and each time it gets larger and further away), and simply cannot be gotten.

Despondent, the King sends for his Jester to cheer him up.  The Jester asks him why he is so sad, so he tells him what has happened.

“How big do they say the moon is….and how far away?”

“The Lord High Chamberlain says it is 35,000 miles away and bigger than Princess Lenore’s room…The Royal Wizard says it is 150,000 miles away and twice as big as the palace….The Royal Mathematician says it is 300,000 miles away and half the size of the kingdom…”

The Court Jester strummed on his lute for a little while.  “They are all wise men,” he said, “and so they must all be right.  If they are all right, then the moon must be just as large and as far away as each person thinks it is.  The thing to do is to find out how big the Princess Lenore thinks it is, and how far away.”

So the Court Jester goes into the Princess’ room and asks her how big she thinks the moon is (just a little smaller than her thumbnail), how far away it is (not quite as high as the big tree outside her window), and what it is made of (gold, of course, silly!).

Then the Court Jester goes to the Royal Goldsmith and has him make a tiny round moon just a little smaller than a thumbnail, and he has him string it on a golden chain.  The Princess is overjoyed, and is able to play again, for now the moon can always be with her.

There is more to the story – it’s really quite sweet – but one lesson always stuck with me:  If you are trying to solve a problem, you need to find out what a person THINKS first.

It’s all about perceptions.

(I’m not gonna lie – we were able to get off cheap when it came time for the Tooth Fairy to pay a visit; instead of trying to figure out what the “going rate” was, we asked Rachel what she thought the Tooth Fairy was supposed to bring her.  “A coin,” she said.  And she was very happy with “a coin”)

Tooth Fairy.
Well, years have gone by since we read that story to our girls – the oldest 3 are all adults now.  And I had forgotten all about that story until one day – completely out of the blue – Sarah asked me, “What do you think about abortion?” (turns out it was a topic in a movie she was watching at the time)

Now, I’m going to be honest with you – we never talked about that subject all that much in our household; it didn’t exactly come up over dinner.  But it was obvious that she wanted to know what I thought about it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say, as my views have changed significantly over the years (each time I come across more and more information).  So, I decided to use the “Many Moons” approach, and asked her what SHE thought about it.

It turns out that she is very much like I was before my eyes were opened; there are grey areas for her – the very “grey areas” that the abortion industry trots out all the time to scare everyone about an over-reaching State (rape, incest, life of the mother is in danger).

And that’s when I thought about perceptions.

So I asked her how many abortions she thought were performed each year.  I didn’t have a clue what her idea might be, and I was genuinely interested to hear what she thought.  Her answer was very enlightening – and also a clue as to why the abortion industry is able to keep fooling people year after year:

“I guess around 500-1,000 each year.”

And all of a sudden, there it was – the “teachable moment”.  For in all of the information that is being spoon-fed to our society about “women’s reproductive rights”, a key piece of information is deliberately being left out.

Our kids grow up thinking that abortion is a rare thing – they don’t know the reality of it, and the people who are telling them that they should think of it as a “right” don’t WANT them to know the reality of it.

So I explained that to Sarah – I showed her the CDC’s “official” statistics, and the Guttmacher Institute’s statistics for abortions per year (see Table 1 on p.3), what the differences between the two are (CDC doesn’t report several states’ data – including California, which performs the highest number of abortions each year in this country), and how many abortions have “officially” been performed since 1973 (more than 55 million).

I told her how I had been fooled, just like her, into believing that abortion was a rare thing – the reality is that in 2008, 22 out of every 100 pregnancies (~ 1 in 5) were aborted; the  year that Sarah was born, 27.5 out of every 100 pregnancies (~1 in 4) were aborted.

I told her how my views on abortion had radically changed the day I saw those numbers.

I told her many more things that I had learned, about pictures that I have seen, and the way that abortion has become an industry that is only concerned with making more money (which necessarily translates into killing more babies) each year.

I’d like to think that she came away from that conversation with a lot of stuff to think about – she sees things from a different perspective than she did a few years ago, now that she is older and out in the world.

And that’s when it hit me – if we are ever going to change the perception of abortion in this country, we first have to understand what each individual THINKS it is.  Without that, we cannot go any further.  We won’t go anywhere if we tell them that what they think is wrong – but we MIGHT be able to give them something to think about.

And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:

About Teresa in Fort Worth, TX

A short, fat, over-the-hill, happily-married mother of 4 daughters. I know just enough to get myself in trouble....
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2 Responses to Perceptions

  1. Excellent post, Teresa. I use the “$250,000 fine for killing a bald eagle egg” approach, but yours is more to the point.


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