Ferdinand is a young bull who prefers sitting in the meadow and smelling flowers to “butting heads” and fighting with his friends. In fact, despite all prodding, he refuses to fight –
even when selected to perform in a major bullfight to a great crowd in Madrid. He just sits down and looks the other way.
How could I have missed this book — published in 1936, never out of print, banned in Spain, and later by the Nazis, one assumes for its pacifism? Could it have saved me?
Not arguing wasn’t the goal in our house. My father, above at age 23 or so, was a debater — and not just any debater but a champion debater despite, or perhaps motivated by, a truly difficult speech impediment. My three brothers and I were set against each other in debates in a sort of early verbal Hunger Games. These games could be held anytime any place, but invariably took place when my family was captive — two adults and four children — on a remote holiday in a 31 foot boat. One thing I remember most acutely from this (and I could say more, but I won’t):
1) You can never win, when it comes to words. Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can rip your soul up.