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It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This.} ?> Mid-summer birthdays are lonely. I mean sure, they’re spaced far enough away from Christmas that the “Kyle’s temporary material happiness fund” should be well stocked, but most of my friends were off on vacation and unable to attend an appropriately large birthday bash. However, in the summer of 1986 I could not have been more thankful for the solitude. In my hands I held the iconic gold cartridge of the original Legend of Zelda.
I had maps, I had snacks, and I had a stack of Nintendo Power magazines by my side; I was ready to go. But none of those provisions were necessary when I directed Link into that first cave.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.
I explored a vast unknown world, discovered hidden dungeons, felt the tension of that last half heart, slew great beasts of legendary proportions, and ventured through seemingly infinite sequels—and it all began with my first sword.
Recently, someone posted a meme featuring that phrase on my Facebook wall. The scene was the same. Same old bald man in a red suit. Same bonfires on either side. Except instead of a sword, Link was lifting up a cup of coffee.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.
ABSOLUTELY, I thought. The world without my coffee in the morning truly is a dangerous place. I pondered that phrase for the rest of the day. The world really is a dangerous place. What did I have in my bag of holding to deal with its dangers? More importantly, what was I equipping my four-year-old daughter with to prepare her for what she would face?
It seems like every week I am re-posting a new picture of a missing child. School shootings are so commonplace that they’ve lost their shock value. Danger seems to lurk around every corner. So when my little girl steps out of our home and into the world on her own, what am I handing to her when I say, “Take this”?
Instinctively, my answer is “education.” Here, take this textbook. Go. Learn. Science. Math. English. Art. Dance. Get a good job. Education will likely lessen the threat of poverty and addiction, and it seems the perfect weapon to equip my child with before she steps out of that cave.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this: education.
I am however, paralyzed by the reality that my answer comes from a place of privilege. I’m white. I’m Canadian. I’m educated. I lack debt (other than my mortgage). And despite being on the lower-end of the spectrum, I am happily middle-class. Yes, I am privileged, and I love my little girl too much not to lean on that for her benefit. Education, definitely education will be the name of her sword, I thought.
That is, until we went to the park down the street the other day.
I live on the border between two neighbourhoods. One wealthy and inhabited mostly by white folk, the other lower-income and made up of mostly indigenous people. Within two blocks of my home there are two parks; one is filled with graffiti, garbage, and in a state of disrepair. The other is clean, orderly, and rarely crowded (and on the wealthier side of the border).
One day while at that nicer park, my little girl happily played. A presumably soccer-mom pulled up in her nice SUV, parked it by the playground, and brought her little blond-haired boy out to play as well. Five minutes into their arrival, an aboriginal man came with his little girl and they sat at a nearby picnic table. He had amateur tattoos covering his arms and face, his pants looked like they might fall off at any moment, and a flat-billed baseball hat perched high on his head.
The SUV-mom took one look, quickly grabbed her boy and insisted they had to go despite his protests of only just arriving. Crying, he was put into his car seat and off they went.
I’m a parent. I get it. The man looked like maybe he had some unsavoury connections. Whatever turned her off—the skin colour? The tattoos? The clothing?— she wanted to protect her child from harm. That day she gave her son a sword.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this: prejudice.
I called my little girl over and asked if she wanted to play with that other girl sitting at the picnic table. “Yes!” she said excitedly. I walked with her to the picnic table and coached her through inviting a new friend into her life.
As I sat with this “unsavoury” character, I realized the sword I want to give my little girl isn’t called education.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this: compassion.