joy magnetism: Protect Me!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Protect Me!

Magnet #1064 - Protect Me!

Ah. If you know my Save the World Sister, you were likely expecting this magnet to be accompanied by another guest magnetpost on pandas from her. Eh, no worries, she'll be back talking pandas eventually, because somehow I've ended up with several panda magnets along the way.

We always manage to visit the Spicy Brown booth at New York Comic Con, and last time around, I picked up this pin magnet. Like all of their kawaii (cute) characters, the Protect Me Panda is freakin' adorable.

It's part of their Protect series, a best-selling collection designed by Kazuko Shinoka, and specifically aimed at helping raise awareness and funds for the WWF.

I picked it for this week, because the little panda kinda reminds me of my Aussie cousin. Halfway to 14, and on her first trip to America, she's now been exposed to about half of the 30 first cousins, in about 4 states and 1 District of Columbia.

I love spending time with my cousins, and this one was no different. We had a ton of fun hanging out, doing our walkabouts in New York, and a little bit in DC.

She's normal people size (which means a little bit taller than me), so was often hard to keep in mind she's only 13. Her age was all the more evident, when in the space of four hours, I had to explain what happened to the Twin Towers on September 11th (her mom brought her down to Ground Zero last week), Civil War/Slavery/Lincoln's Assassination (when we dropped by Ford Theater this week), and the Holocaust (when we visited the International Spy Museum and she learned about World War II).

I felt a little bit guilty, wondering how her mom would react when she learned that I'd explained those three examples of what a crappy world we actually live in sometimes. While a big part of me wanted to protect her, she did pose the questions, and I couldn't see a way around not answering them.

So I did. But all the while, I kinda felt like I was taking a bit of innocence away from the little girl from Down Under.

The protective stance continued, when we saw the September 11th footage at the Spy Museum - I wanted to cover her eyes, but also wanted to point it out to her. I winced when she winced when I explained how Lincoln was shot in the very theatre we were standing under, and that they eventually caught and hung the plotmakers.

And the next day, when we went to the Holocaust Museum (at her request), I wanted to pull her away from the graphic footage, all the while trying to help her understand the un-understandable. While it was a little hard, she made a few astute observations that showed she was soaking in the information. We ended the visit by buying her The Diary of Anne Frank, required reading at her age here in the States, but a book that she'd not yet heard of in Australia.

Oh! And that was something else I learned on this trip, trying to pick out the places and things that would the most interesting and worthwhile for my cousin and my aunt. I realized that no matter how much I love it, and love learning more and more about it, the plain fact is, American history is just not as interesting to those not from the U.S.

It was kind of a funny realization, one that seems to be uniquely American. I get that feeling whenever I travel in Europe, too. You know, when you walk around the corner and run into a building that's older than your country's history.

After all, it's really quite humbling to realize that your country's history, while interesting, is only about 234 years old, and really only about a spec in the terms of overall humankind's history.
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