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In the Village: The moral dialogue continues

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 11:11 a.m. MDT

Editor's note: Second of three articles. Click here for part one.

Father: What did you do, Erinel?

Erinel: He hit me on the head! With a big block!

F: I know. Why do you think he did that?

E: Because he's mean!

F: Is he really? Then why did you want him to play with you? Do you like playing with mean people?

E: No.

F: Charlie's not mean. So why did he hit you?

E: I kicked down his city.

F: Yeah, you sure did. You knocked down every single block. Look at this — there's not two blocks where Charlie put them. Nothing that he built is left.

E: No.

F: You did a very thorough job. How long did it take you? Show me. Act it out, let me see what you did.

E: I don't want to.

F: You don't want to show me how you kicked it all down? You don't want me to see?

E: No.

F: Well, let me imagine it then. You ran here, and here, and here, and that did the job, didn't it? It took about three kicks and it was all wrecked.

E: Maybe.

F: How long did it take him to build it?

E: I don't know.

F: Do you think he built it in three kicks? Did he just run in and swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, there was the city?

E: (laughing) No. It took longer.

F: It took a long time. He worked hard on it. He had a plan. Some of those buildings were really tall. It's hard to make tall buildings, isn't it?

E: They fall over.

F: Your brother Charlie loves to make things, Erinel. He's a maker. That's one of the ways that he's like Heavenly Father. Because he sees a bunch of blocks and he imagines what they might be if he puts them together a certain way, and then he does it, and he's good at it, isn't he, Erinel?

E: I'm not as good at it.

F: Not yet. You haven't had much practice.

E: I don't like doing it.

F: And you don't have to. Nobody makes you build with blocks if you don't want to. Do I ever tell you, Erinel, you can't leave your room until you've built a tower at least four blocks high!

E: (laughing) No.

F: Could I make you build a tower? Could I hold your wrists and force you to pick up the blocks and put them in place?

E: Maybe. You're really big and I'm just little.

F: Would it be fun? If you really didn't want to, and I made you anyway?

E: No.

F: Isn't that what you were doing with Charlie? He really didn't want to go out and play with you right then. But you decided to make him do it. You decided that he had to come and play with you right that minute. And if he didn't want to, you'd stop him from building his city.

E: You and Mom won't let me play outside if Charlie doesn't come.

F: That used to be true, but for months now we've been letting you play in the back yard by yourself.

E: It's no fun by myself!

F: But it's fun with Charlie, right?

E: Yes! He swings me! And he helps me up into the tree!

F: But Erinel, when you kicked down his city, did Charlie go out and play with you?

E: He hit me.

F: So let's see. You wanted Charlie to play with you. He said he'd play with you as soon as he finished his city. But you wrecked his city so he couldn't finish it. And instead of playing with you, he got mad and hit you. So what do you think? Was that a good plan?

E: Plan?

F: When you want Charlie to play with you, wrecking what he's doing doesn't work, does it?

E: No.

F: What about waiting until he finished building the city? Would that have worked?

E: It was taking so long! Hours and hours!

F: And he loves doing it, doesn't he? It makes him happy to build things. He was happy, wasn't he? Don't you want him to be happy?

E: I wanted to play!

F: And he wanted to build. Those are his hands. His feet. His body. He gets to decide what to do with them. Not you. You only get to decide what to do with your body. Your hands, your feet. While he was using his body to build, what could you have done with your body?

E: I don't know.

F: You could have gone outside and played alone until he came out. You could have gone into the kitchen to see what Mother was doing. You could have read a book. You could have watched a DVD. You have dolls. You have games.

E: I wanted to play with Charlie!

F: Charlie doesn't belong to you. You don't get to decide. You can ask, but he gets to say no. Do you understand?

E: Yes.

F: And you don't get to break what other people have built. Do you understand me? Even when you're angry, if someone else built something, you have no right to break it.

E: If I do they'll hit me.

F: Charlie won't hit you again. He's working on that. That's not why you don't break things. Erinel, making things is hard, but it's a good thing to do. A beautiful thing. Don't be a breaker of things that other people made, Erinel.

E: I won't break his city again.

F: Look at these blocks scattered all over the floor. When Charlie comes back in here, it'll make him sad to pick them up, because he'll remember how it used to be, and how it got broken. Why don't you and I pick them up and put them away together? For Charlie?

E: Then will he play with me?

F: I don't know, Erinel. You really hurt his feelings when you broke his city. But he's your brother, and he loves you. Do you forgive him for hitting you?

E: Yes! Yes, I do!

F: Then when we've got this all cleaned up, you go tell him that, and ask him to forgive you for breaking his city, and see what happens.

Orson Scott Card is a writer of nonfiction and fiction, from LDS works to popular fiction. A longer version of this column can be found at MormonTimes.com. Leave feedback for Card at www.nauvoo.com/contact_desnews.html.

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