Everything I needed to learn, I learned from “Fancy Nancy”

Everything I needed to learn, I learned from “Fancy Nancy”

By Josh Schatzle
Carbondale resident

I found some sanity this week in an unlikely place: “Fancy Nancy.”  Now before you rush to judgment, it bears mentioning that I have a daughter to read to.  For those not familiar with the popular children’s series, Fancy Nancy is a grade-schooler who, like many young girls, is obsessed with being fancy.  Through a variety of everyday scenarios, Nancy helps readers build a fancier vocabulary, introducing them to more sophisticated words, some even in French.

In the one I was reading, “Fancy Nancy: Every Day is Earth Day” I trepidatiously — that’s fancy for “I was scared” — turned the pages, afraid that my daughter and I were about to be indoctrinated — that’s fancy for “bullied” — by the wacko environmentalist movement.

Funny, but I can still remember when being a liberal in America meant you were inherently suspicious of big government; but now liberalism is big government, and so-called “climate science” is its tool.  What happened to those wonderful freedom-loving hippies of the 1960s and 1970s?!

I digress; that’s not what happened; Fancy Nancy learned from her teacher that the earth was entrusted to human kind, who alone had the wisdom and capacity to actually care for and steward the planet. After all, neither dolphins nor chimps for all their intelligence are aware there even is an environment.  And as is so often the case with immaturity, Nancy got a little carried away.

She became a bit of an environmental Nazi, all in the name of “going green” of course. She turned off her mother’s laptop, causing her to lose the document she was working on; she turned off her little sister’s nightstand light, causing her to wake up in the middle of the night afraid, and subsequently waking up the entire household.

Nancy it seemed had crossed a line; in her zeal — that’s fancy for “passion” — for “greenness” she was compromising her family’s freedom to live!  Well, Fancy Nancy must have some sensible parents, because they dutifully called her out on it, breaking it gently to their daughter that people don’t serve “green”; “green” serves people.

Amazing how a children’s book has the power to communicate such rationality, particularly in a world as frenzied as ours.  The frenzy isn’t truly new; but the storm’s been brewing especially strong during the last 100 years with the advent of the scientific era, when human kind suddenly believed it had the power to control its own destiny, that the forces of Nature could be harnessed and managed.

It’s a safe bet to say that though this didn’t begin with Nazi Germany, its popularity was catapulted by them.  Since that time, the world has been obsessed with managing the human race and its survival; a perpetuating zeitgeist of sorts.  And in the pursuit of this “noble” vocation, we missed the proverbial forest for the trees.  Or to put it another way, we made a second thing a first thing, and having done so lost the first thing.  What good are the trees if there’s no one there to enjoy them or no life for them to sustain?

Specifically, C.S. Lewis put it this way in “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment: “That ‘the people should be preserved’ is not the Law of Nature but only one clause in it … I desire the continuance of our species, but I also desire that they should be people of a certain sort … if I cannot have both, I had rather that the human race, having certain qualities in their lives, should continue for only a few centuries rather than losing freedom, friendship, dignity, and mercy, and learning to be quite content without them, they should continue for millions of millennia …. Lots of people feel like me, and lots feel the other way.  I believe that it is in our age being decided which kind of man will win.” 

Lewis seems to have been quite prophetic. Politics is as heated as ever because both sides believe they are fighting to preserve something of great importance — the left wing is caught up with survival of the species, while the right wing is caught up with preserving the essential freedom and dignity of our species.  I, for one, am with Lewis and Fancy Nancy’s parents; what will we have won if we are to succeed in preserving human existence at the expense of the human essence?  Environmental-wackoism isn’t just bad science, it’s bad human policy.  Let’s not miss the forest for the trees; perhaps it’s just possible that we might have both.  

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