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Doing the Right Thing

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Somehow, right under my very eyes, Poppyseed has developed the musical tastes of… {{sigh}}..a tween. Tweens are the kids we used to refer to as “pre-teens” or “adolescents.” And for the uninitiated, tween girls are obsessed with the likes of Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers. There is just one problem; Poppyseed is only seven.

These musical “sensations” certainly received no playtime in Beit Schorr. In fact, I couldn’t imagine where she had heard this music. That is, until Poppyseed’s recent birthday party when I overheard five little girls singing their hearts out to “Love Story” and “You Belong to Me.”

“Oh Mama, I really, really, REALLY want a Taylor Switht cd,” she lisped, “can I get one with my gift cards?”
“Poppy’s Mom, Poppy’s Mom!” exclaimed one of the other little girls, “you don’t have to do that. I own it and can just burn a copy for Poppy.”

Instead of dealing with the age-appropriateness of the musical taste of my daughter, I was now faced with a more pressing matter; the issue of graciously refusing an offer that violates Jewish Law.

The concern regarding the theft of intangible assets is not a new one. Dating back to Talmudic times, Jewish Law is clear that intellectual property belongs to its creator in the same way that physical property belongs to its owner. The explosion of information and the ability to share it has led to new detours around copyright law. A society that does not protect the intangible gifts of the mind and soul is a society that will be deprived of such creativity. A free market guarantees that individuals will continue to invest in ongoing artistic endeavours, ensuring a future that encourages artistic and creative expression for all to enjoy. Jewish Law reminds us that public benefit must be balanced with the desire of self. Remember Hillel who taught “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?”

Teaching our children to live an ethical life requires much more than reading touchy-feely books about the virtues of honesty and singing songs that promote honest living. Our kids have to see Jewish values in action. Had I accepted this girl’s well-intentioned offer, I would be teaching, by example, that it is OK to take something without paying for it. While one might argue that CDs have become cost-prohibitive, there is nothing that says that life requires one to own CDs. Once we choose to own the music from the CD, we have entered into an agreement that we will pay for it. Otherwise, we have stolen it.

On the other hand, as my friend Tevye is fond of saying, to reject an offer in a way that is gracious and thoughtful takes into account the injunction to treat others with kindness. By declining with the statement, “That is so sweet, thank you. But we would feel more comfortable paying for the CD so that Taylor Swift gets the money that she should earn for making something that will bring Poppyseed so much enjoyment,” a statement of both graciousness and honesty has been expressed. Teaching, by example, that how we live our lives can be a constant reflection of our Tradition.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amitzah permalink
    Thursday, 5 August 2010 12:03 am

    I feel like I’ve read this before…

    The older I become the more I understand the need to support the artists and authors that I adore. If I want them to continue to play and to explore the captivating worlds which they create then I have to be willing to help support them while they do it.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 August 2010 12:09 am

      Very funny 😉

      Sometimes I write something in one location that I want to use for a different audience.

      I really like what you wrote. An important lesson for those who are the beneficiaries of those who create.

  2. Thursday, 5 August 2010 7:02 am

    I have that problem with images I put on my blog. I mainly use the free wikimedia pics, but sometimes I can’t find what I am looking for.

  3. knittnkitten permalink
    Thursday, 5 August 2010 11:52 am

    Gotta love the tween pop…

  4. Thursday, 5 August 2010 9:52 pm

    if i had to guess, purely from your writing, you *are* constantly and consistently setting an example for your children about your beliefs and the way that you think that this world should work! i do agree that we have to walk the walk. *but* (and i think that you totally do this, too!) we have to communicate, communicate, communicate with our kids about why we do what we do. otherwise, it seems that it would be all for naught. when we’re good people who do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do, we’re heading in the right direction, for sure!!

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