- an excerpt from NPR's This American Life with Ira Glass -
Well it all began at Christmas two years ago, when my daughter was four years old. It was the first time that she had ever asked about what this holiday means. So I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus, and she wanted to know more about that. We went out and bought a kid's Bible and had these readings at night.
She loved them. She wanted to know everything about Jesus. So we read a lot about his birth and about his teaching and she would ask constantly what that phrase was and I would explain to her that it was Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And we would talk about those old words and about what it all meant.
Then one day we were driving past a big church and out front was an enormous crucifix. She said, "Who is that!?"
I guess I'd never really told that part of the story so I had to sort of, “Yeah, oh, well, that's Jesus and I forgot to tell you the ending and yeah, you know, he ran afoul of the Roman government. This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorities of the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troublesome."
It was about a month later after that Christmas. We'd gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant. It was mid-January. Her pre-school celebrates the same holidays as the local schools so Martin Luther King Day was off. I knocked off work that day and I decided that we'd play, and I'd take her out to lunch. We were sitting in there and right on the table where we happened to plop down was the arts section of the local newspaper. There, as big as life, was a huge drawing, by a ten year-old kid from a local school, of Martin Luther King.
She said, "Who's that?"
And I said, "Well, as it happens, that is Martin Luther King, and he's why you're not in school today, because we're celebrating his birthday. This is the day we celebrate his life."
And she said, "So who is he?"
And I said, "Well, he was a preacher."
She looks up to me and says, "For Jesus?"
And I said, "Yeah, well, actually he was. But there was another thing that he was really famous for, which is that he had a message."
And you're trying to say this to a four year-old, it's very, you know - this is the first time they ever hear anything, so you're just very careful about how you phrase everything. So I said, "Well, he was a preacher, and he had a message."
And she said, "What was his message?"
I said, "Well, he said that you should treat everybody the same, no matter what they look like."
She thought about that for a minute and she said, "Well, that's what Jesus said."
And I said "Yeah, I guess it is. I never thought of it that way, but yeah. That is sort of like Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
She thought for a minute and looked up at me and said, "Did they kill him too?"
. . .
An excerpt from NPR's This American Life with Ira Glass