Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mr. Disney's Good Day:
a modern parable

image Mr. Disney decided to leave his newly-built Magic Kingdom for a while and walk about the streets of Anaheim. During his walk, he chanced upon a poorer neighborhood. At the center of that neighborhood he found a broken-down city park, complete with rusty old playground equipment and brown tufts of grass studding what might have once been a baseball diamond. A few children of varying ages played here despite the humble offerings of the park.

Filled with compassion, Mr. Disney called out to them from the center of the park, "Children! I have here seven tickets, one for each of you, that will grant you admission to the happiest place on earth! In fact, we can go there right now, if you'll follow me. It is only a short walk from here."

The children wondered at the strange man in a business suit who had invaded their spartan territory. Six children walked up to him and accepted a ticket, while the seventh remained behind--after all, who was this man, and why should he be giving out tickets to perfect strangers?

Six children followed Mr. Disney out of the park and into the city streets toward the Magic Kingdom. One child stayed behind at the first crosswalk, having met another playmate from another neighborhood. They went off together to play kick the can.

Five children pursued Mr. Disney through old neighborhoods. At one point along the way, Mr. Disney stopped to point at a tall white mountain rising from the center of the Kingdom, which he called The Matterhorn. None of the children knew what a Matterhorn was, but it certainly looked exciting. But while the other children had been looking at the Matterhorn, one of the children looked down instead and noticed that another child carried a half-eaten chocolate bar in his coat pocket. When the other child refused to share it, the hungry child became angry and the two began to argue. Mr. Disney said, "Children, if you are to accompany me to the happiest place on earth, you must get along." The hungry child, embarrassed at the scolding, went off to sulk, convincing himself that Mr. Disney meant him to go hungry. The other child stomped off in the opposite direction, thinking to himself that Mr. Disney meant him to share his only chocolate bar which he had bought with his own money.

Only three children remained as the little group left the world of their neighborhood behind altogether, coming to a busy intersection which marked the boundary between the neighborhood and the larger city. Mr. Disney said to them, "Be careful, children. Stay together now, and we'll all cross safely. The happiest place on earth is only two blocks away."

One of the children eyed the busy street and decided it was too much for him, so he turned around to go home.

Two children walked the rest of the way toward the entrance to Mr. Disney's Magic Kingdom, gasping in surprise as they caught glimpses of the fantastic sights which awaited them. They could hear the sound of music playing beyond the great stone wall which divided the Magic Kingdom from the rest of the city. Laughter too intermingled with the music, and the smells of popcorn, fresh-baked pastries, and caramel floated tantalizingly on the breeze.

At last they came before the massive pavilions that served to welcome guest's into Mr. Disney's Magic Kingdom. Thousands were gathered outside, waiting to purchase tickets. Mr. Disney walked the two children to the front of the line and instructed them to show their tickets to the man at the gate. But one of the children balked. "I don't want to go in here, I want to see the Matterhorn!" Mr. Disney answered, "Child, this is the way to the Matterhorn, and a thousand other wonderful things." But the child refused, begging to go through a side door (which Mr. Disney knew to lead into a dangerous area meant for mechanics and technicians). At last, the child folded her little arms and scowled at the pavilions which barred her way, while the seventh and last child showed his ticket and quietly entered.

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