Myths persist… until they don’t. Some myths seem to live forever. Others slip away quietly, unnoticed. Quite a few explode in our faces, whether we’re ready for their demise or not. Letting go of myths is sometimes easy, other times difficult.
Two myths that disappear early in one’s life are those of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I recall the relief I felt when the latter character was busted. Prior to his erasure, I visualized said rabbit as a six-foot-tall creature with a disarming smirk, not a friendly smile. When I was able to disassociate him from the jellybeans and chocolate eggs that awaited me on Easter morning, I felt my anxiety about the huge bunny plummet. Then, there was December’s ever-jolly bearded one. If you still believed in Santa Claus when you entered kindergarten, some savvy classmate whose parents should have named her/him “Spoiler Alert” quickly disabused you of that particular myth.
Here are a few other myths that extinguished themselves over time.
COWBOYS ASTRIDE WHITE HORSES WERE THE HEROES. INDIANS, NOT SO MUCH. This was early childhood gaslighting at its finest, propaganda par excellence. When I’m not feeling resentful about those episodes of U.S. history that remain(ed) hidden for many generations, I’m astounded by the über chutzpah of those who believe(d) they are(were) racially superior to others and assume(d) their superiority gives(gave) them the right to terrorize and wage war on the “others.”
A WOMAN CAN’T BECOME PREGNANT THE FIRST TIME SHE HAS SEX. I gathered this was incorrect information the night my mother and I were watching the episode of “Peyton Place” in which Mia Farrow’s and Ryan O’Neal’s characters lost their respective virginities during an interlude on the latter’s sailboat. When I voiced, “You can’t become pregnant yadda yadda yadda,” my mother came close to launching herself from her chair with the speed of a booster rocket. She told me in no uncertain terms, “Yes. You can become pregnant yadda, yadda, yadda!” Score that: Reality = 1 vs. Pregnancy Myth = 0.
ALL POLICE OFFICERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Nooooo, I’m afraid not. If that myth were true, parents of color wouldn’t need to sit with their sons and daughters and recite “the talk” regarding what to do when they’re stopped by the police. Some police officers are friendly and helpful. More could display those characteristics if police departments employed psychologists and used personality assessments as part of their recruitment and training programs.
THE MIDWESTERN STATES ARE PRONE TO EXPERIENCE TORNADOS, ESPECIALLY DURING SPRING. No, no, no! Climate changes have brought tornados to every region of the U.S. every season of the year. Auntie Em’s Kansas is no longer the sweet spot for twisters. The entire country is a Tornado Alley.
OUR ELECTED LEADERS ARE ALWAYS INTELLIGENT, HONEST, MENTALLY SOUND DEFENDERS OF OUR DEMOCRACY. Give me a break, will you? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is defending the Massachusetts Airman who is accused of disseminating top-secret security information via at least two of the social networks. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has bragged that her two-year-old granddaughter owns a shotgun and a rifle. Where are we? This is so far away from what used to be reality.
PANDEMICS, LIKE THE PLAGUE AND THE SPANISH FLU ARE RELICS OF THE PAST. Nope! There’s Covid-19-20-21-22-23. And it continues to linger.
IF THERE WERE A PANDEMIC-SIZED VIRUS THAT SCIENTISTS COULD CURE OR PREVENT WITH A VACCINE, EVERY CITIZEN ELEGIBLE TO RECEIVE THE INJECTION, FREE OF CHARGE, WOULD SURELY GET IT AND BE THANKFUL . Nope again! Enter the vaccine deniers and doubters.
ONCE ENSHRINED AS LAW VIA LEGISLATION AND/OR THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, ISSUES LIKE ABORTION RIGHTS, MARRIAGE EQUALITY, AND VOTING RIGHTS WILL REMAIN THE LAW OF THE LAND. So far, two of those three decisions have been over-turned or cleverly “adjusted” by some states. The third could be challenged in the near future, opined The-Heck-With-Ethics-For-This-Justice Clarence Thomas.
So many myths go AWOL during our lifetimes. They slide into obscurity, due to our maturity, learning, common sense, peer pressure, and intelligence, all of which help us cope with their evaporation.
But here’s the rub, Dear Readers. Years ago, myths were unmasked at a slow pace, one at a time. Our young brains were able to quickly dismiss them and adjust to their demise. Gradual change went hand-in-hand with quick acceptance. Now, it seems the myths are exploding so quickly, and our slower brains have trouble accepting and adapting to the changes. Now, quick changes go hand-in-hand with slow acceptance. We still have the ability to change the script, but we’re adjusting to the changes at a lesser speed. It’s ironic (or annoying) that things work that way, isn’t it?
©Renée Bess 2023
Renée Bess writes novels, short stories, poetry, and opinion essays. Her work has earned a GCLS Goldie Award and an Alice B. Readers’ Appreciation Award. Renée’s books are published by Flashpoint Publications. Please visit her website to learn where you can purchase her books. http://www.reneebess.com
4 thoughts on “WHEN MYTHS BITE THE DUST”
It was just a few years ago that I found out my adult daughter had been terrified of the Easter Bunny, her fear going into overdrive when she saw Hershey’s kisses scattered on the steps leading to her room. Easier to laugh about that now, than it may be for those of us whose civil rights are being snatched away like a rug under one’s feet.
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Thanks for reading my blog, Karen. It’s only now that my younger sister has learned about my Easter bunny phobia. I agree with your last sentence! Presently, I’m trying to figure out what all people of good will can do to reverse the very dangerous and ugly path our nation seems to be following. The former POTUS was only the tip of an iceberg that’s been forming for a while.
TY. For me, Books are sacred. The refuge I received in the Free libraries saved my teenage life. No librarian ever stopped me from reading any free book. Book burning and/or banning was/is pure EVIL. I will never forgive book destroyers.
Thanks for reading my blog, Anna. I agree with you about the sacredness of books and the evil inherent in banning and burning them. Those of us who are of the same mindset need to figure out what we can do to stop the current race to fascist political policies.