Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fuzzy Thinking

As camp memories continue . . .

At every camp I ever attended in the 1970's--church camp, girl scout camp, sixth grade outdoor school--you name it, at every camp we were told the story of the Warm Fuzzies and the Cold Pricklies. All the grown-ups seem to have drunk the kool-aid on this one. They seemed positively evangelical in their zeal for this fable.

Usually, after we heard the story, we had a craft time during which we made yarn puff balls that were meant to symbolize Warm Fuzzies. Sometimes we glued googly eyes and/or antennae onto them. Some grown-up would then encourage us to secretly gift each other with these puff balls throughout the day. Oh joy.

I'm pretty sure we can trace many of the deficiancies in our nation's current social policies to an over-reliance on this story in the moral formation of youth 30 years ago.

Can I get a witness???

11 comments:

Katherine said...

Oh, yeah. You're speaking the truth, sister.

cheesehead said...

LOL!

Anitra said...

That threw me back. I remember rolling my eyebrows a lot during these kinds of discussions.

It was part of the Transactional Analysis movement - and its a bit frightening to google on warm fuzzy and cold prickly. There are a number of well meaning and extrodinarily insipid moral stories out there posted with not even a touch of irony. For example:

http://www.fuzzies.com/fuzzies_story.html

It seems to have started with this book: http://www.amazon.com/T-Tots-Other-Prinzes/dp/0915190737

There's a sociologist that has come up with a term for the generation born between 1954 and 1965 - Generation Jones. While promoting this label is probably a decent little meal ticket for him, a lot of what he identifies for this group resonates with me. We were the actual children in a decade that was very childlike. There weren't very many adults in the room when we were growing up.

I think the deeper vat of kool-aid at the time was the faith that Universal Kum-ba-yah was achievable through simple reforms like TA or dumb ass little yarn balls.

What does one do in the face of WWII, of the Holocaust, of the Cuban missile crisis, of race riots, of racial injustice so clear it can no loner be denied, of environmental degradation, of Vietnam? At the same time marriages are falling apart all over the place - little security for anyone in that huge time of upheaval.

Maybe the grown ups were desperately scared and were willing to try anything if it kept the world together for one more day.

Maybe there is something to be said for grabbing with both hands the icy cold prickly that is expressed as "the total depravity of man" - at least we know that Grace (our ultimate warm fuzzy)(I bet if someone went into the archives they would find an appauling number of sermons based on the fuzzy/prickly metaphor, I'm already starting to gag here)...


I get suckered in by Pottery Barn catalogues. If I owned all their stuff I'm certain my life would be peaceful, perfect, and I would be at my creative, most self-actived self. I'd be baking organic bread, I'd be at my ideal weight, no one would ever get into fights, I'd have lots of good looking friends who'd sit around in candlelight, gracefully drinking good wine and laughing. None of my food or things would come from exploited people or places and everyone on my block would be also having such a beautiful evening. Heck, everyone in the world would be at someone else's house that night.

If only it were that easy.

Anitra said...

eyes - rolling my eyes - although I'm entertained by the idea of rolling my eyebrows... hmmm

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

eeerrrmmmm.....I have never ever heard that story. Maybe I am warped?

Ringelstruempfe said...

Well, in a way it worked... Even I grew up with the warm fuzzies - and I grew up in Germany in the 80's. Now I wonder where all my felted blankets went...

Gord said...

Actually while it was a little simplistic I find the story fairly useful for younger children. FOr teens it is a little stupid.

Mind you I have heard a few variations on the story so it may depend which one you use.

How do you stand on teh song Magic PEnny?

ppb said...

Oh, so over that warm fuzzy story. And the magic penny--argh!

SpookyRach said...

I don't think I've ever heard this story, either. Evidently we missed the whole TA movement out here in the sticks.

In fact, the more I think about it, I'm CERTAIN we missed the TA movement out here.

Purechristianithink said...

Rach--I think in your region it was the T&A movement, no?

Anitra--I also like the concept of rolling eyebrows.

Gord---Magic Penny? Sure, in a medly with "Today" and "One Tin Soldier"

Mary Beth said...

Holy smokes. I'm with you on that.