During a trip to our local library yesterday, my daughter pointed to a small side-street and said that her band sometimes practices down that street. My somewhat rambling reply: “Well, that isn’t so very far, though farther than if it were very close, but still, not as far as if it were a longer way.” She: “You sound like Winnie the Pooh.” Which started my mind on a path, the ultimate conclusion of which was that if we all thought more like Pooh, the world would be a much kinder, nicer place to live. (As I was indulging in this thought process, my daughter said, “I can see the wheels turning.”) To those who know me, I am apparently rather transparent, much like Pooh himself.
I wonder what Pooh would have to say about the insanity of those who would follow the likes of da trumpeter? “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem. If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
Say Pooh … what do you think of all the people who think Muslims are evil, simply because they believe differently? “Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them. The things that make me different are the things that make me me.”
Recently President Obama visited Hiroshima, and some people think he was wrong to do so. What is your take, Pooh-bear? “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
Pooh, sometimes people ask me why I get so angry and rant about things so much … what are your thoughts? “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”
Some of my favourite Pooh-isms:
- “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
- “I used to believe in forever, but forever’s too good to be true”
- “Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”
- “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”
- “I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”
- “I did know once, only I’ve sort of forgotten.”
- “Think, think, think.”
That last one is one that I say to myself every day, multiple times a day! I even smack my paw against my head, as Pooh does …
Yes, Pooh has a simplistic view of the world, but isn’t it a nice one? Was the world ever like that? I do not think so, nor is it ever likely to be, but thanks to A.A. Milne, Pooh, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and the rest, we can visit that world sometimes, if only for a brief interlude.
Interestingly, Winnie-the-Pooh has been banned from a few places in the past. In the small (about 7,000 people) town of Tuszyn, Poland, our beloved Pooh-bear was banned from a newly-built playground because the city council there believes he is either transgender or gay. Additionally, according to council member Ryszard Cichy, “The problem with that bear is it doesn’t have a complete wardrobe. It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children.” As my granddaughter said when I told her of this, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” Elsewhere in Poland, however, Pooh is so popular that streets have even been named for him.
Like Alice-in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh has been challenged by religious groups because the animal characters can speak and act on the same level as their human counterpart, Christopher Robin. As shown in many book challenging cases the idea of talking animals has been cited as an ‘abomination in the site of God’. (The University of Tulsa, Department of Special Collections and University Archives) My personal opinion is that these talking animals have a lot more sense than many people I know!
And then there is the problem of Piglet. In the United Kingdom, Winnie-The-Pooh along with Charlotte’s Web and The Little Pigs nursery rhyme were banned from public schools because the talking pig characters might offend Muslim and Jewish students who abstain from pork as part of their religions. Fortunately, in recent years, the Muslim Council of Britain formally requested an end to the “well-intentioned but misguided policy” and for all the materials to be returned to classroom shelves. (ibid.) This was truly a case of political correctness taken too far — Muslims and Jews abstain from eating pork … they don’t deny that pigs exist!
The most interesting case of Winnie-The-Pooh’s banning happened in 2009 in Russia. In a report from the Wall Street Journal “Russia’s Justice Ministry placed the book on a list of banned material and labeled it pro-Nazi because a depiction of Pooh bear wearing a swastika was discovered among the personal possessions of a known political extremist. If one extremist was in possession of a Nazi Pooh, the local courts concluded, then it stood to reason that others may follow suit” (bannedbooks.world.edu). So, to this day Russian children cannot have access to the Milne tales without strict consequences.
I love Pooh and friends … my family call me Eeyore, and I have Eeyore pj’s, coffee mugs, and a stuffed eeyore that they have given me over the years. I think most people like the Pooh stories and cast of characters, as Disney actually sells more Pooh merchandise than Mickey Mouse merchandise. We cannot, as Pooh might say, “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” But maybe we can, just for a little while. Maybe in the world of today we really need to do this. Maybe if we all took a break sometimes, took a few minutes or an hour, to just be like Pooh, perhaps we just might be happier, less stressed, smile more, and have nicer things to say to people. Think about it.
*Italicized Pooh quotes credited to A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh; any others came from the webby corners of my mind.