Thirteen-years-old Carrie walked through the fair eating her favorite food in all the world, pink cotton candy. As she passed the different games and exhibits, she thought about the lessons that her mother had been trying to teach her using a game from Mama’s youth, Snakes and Ladders. Mama wanted her to know the difference between what were desired virtues (ladders) and what were hated vices (snakes).
Carrie did not really like Mama’s games, for there were always underlying teachings, and she was a girl who just wanted to have fun. But, she had sat down to play the game with Mama, mainly because Mama had said that she would take her to the fair to ride the Ferris Wheel and the Carousel with the beautiful gilded horses painted in gold and silver. As usual, Mama won the game!
But, here she was at the fair! What fun she was having watching people try to win stuffed animals by knocking down pins or shooting darts and bursting balloons. As she watched the man behind the counter touch a lever every time someone started to thrown to hit the pins, she realized that he was a “snake,” hindering people from winning. Obviously, he had a major vice of cheating.
So, she tried to decide how could she get past the snakes to find the ladders that would help people and herself win prizes to take home. So, making a rash decision, she stood at the different booths, and when people started to play the game, she would ask the guys a question, distracting them, and people started to win. The hawkers realized what she was doing, and they tried to get her to move away, but she was enjoying herself too much.
Finally, one of the hawkers reported her to her mother. Mama was appalled at her behavior, telling Carrie, “Those men are trying to make a living, and if everybody wins, they will be ruined! What were you trying to do?” Carrie responded, “I didn’t want the snakes to win, so I became a ladder. I helped people win, so doesn’t that mean I am virtuous?”
Mama had to reflect on the question, making sure not to discourage Carrie from doing good, but getting her to understand that sometimes you cannot tell virtues from vices, that it often depends on the context. So, she told her impressionable daughter, “Carrie, in life, what sometimes looks like a vice, like being very angry, can turn out to be a virtue, if it is used to change how people are treated. So, always try to understand what is happening before you judge another person as a snake.”
Carrie thought about what Mama had said all the way home, as she played with the beautiful green and lavender pinwheel that she had won throwing pennies into a cup, a game made easier by leaning over the counter a little more than she should have. Now she wondered if that made her a snake or a ladder?
Word of the Day Challenge is Rash.