Sometimes my son Mark takes things in the strangest ways. To him, everything is black and white, good or evil.
Mark (age 5): "Dad? Is Barack Obama the worst president ever?"
Aristos (age 32): "That's hard to say. He's on the right track, but he hasn't killed anyone like Lincoln did."
Mark: "Lincoln killed people?"
Aristos: "Well, technically he didn't kill anyone personally, but he abused his powers to see that hundreds of thousands who disagreed with him died."
Mark: "Geez, why didn't anyone kill Lincoln?"
Aristos: "Actually, somebody did kill Lincoln. An actor named John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head."
Mark: "Well then that makes John Wilkes Booth a hero, like Spiderman."
Aristos: "Not really."
Mark: "Oh yeah! Spiderman kills bad guys who try to hurt other people, and he's a hero. So if John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln, then he's a hero because Lincoln hurt other people!"
Aristos: "No, Mark, you're missing the big picture."
Mark: "Are you going to start explaining things to me now like the other times? Because if you are, then I'm just going to go to my room and play my playstation."
About ten minutes later.
Aristos: "I thought that you were playing Playstation."
Mark: "I was. I was playing Spiderman, and I was killing lots of bad guys."
Aristos: "That's not the same as shooting the president in the back of the head."
Mark: "That's not what I'm talking about. I wanted to know if maybe John Wilkes Booth thought that he was in a movie when he shot Lincoln."
Mark: "You said that John Wilkes Booth was an actor, so maybe he just thought that he was pretending to shoot the president for a good movie about a hero who kills bad guys, but the gun was real and it killed Lincoln. So maybe he shouldn't go to jail because it was just an accident."
I desperately want to know what goes through this kid's head as he reasons things out. He has his peculiar way of thinking, but there is an elegance (however flawed) to it that goes well beyond his age.