Linus & His Sincere Pumpkin Patch
Last night I did something I’ve done every October just about every year of my life…I watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It just wouldn’t be that spooky time of year without my favorite special. This time, however, I watched with new perspective. Perhaps Charles Schulz was making a point beyond regaling us with yet another tale about the beloved Peanuts, then again, perhaps it is just my brain on overdrive as usual.
So what statement is possibly being made here? Well, if you recall, despite the title, this story is actually about Linus. Usually Linus is known for sharing some pearl of wisdom beyond his years, but this time he proves that even he is not above humiliation. His story begins as he is writing a letter to the fictional “Great Pumpkin”. Despite the fact that all his friends tease him because the Great Pumpkin is not real, Linus continues to insist it is true. He believes wholeheartedly that if he waits patiently for him in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night, then the Great Pumpkin will appear and bestow upon him a bag of toys. However, this will only actually work if he expresses no doubts whatsoever and finds the most sincere of pumpkin patches.
Of course despite his best efforts to find that perfect pumpkin patch, the Great Pumpkin never does show up. Instead, Linus misses out on having fun with his friends, hurts his one and only ally, Sally, and ends up cold and alone the rest of the night. But does this sway Linus in his thinking? No, in fact, he digs his heels in as the credits roll with him raging about how next year things will be different because he’ll find an even more sincere pumpkin patch!
While I always saw this as Schulz’s way of poking fun at belief in Santa Claus, which was likely his intention, I find it equally telling how often we do just what Linus has done. We choose to believe something because it sounds good and feel that if we are sincere in that belief then that’s reason enough to stand by it. After all, who needs evidence when you have sincerity? The truth is though, Linus had absolutely no compelling reason to believe in the Great Pumpkin and reality dictates that no matter how much you want to believe something, if it’s not actually true no amount of wishing will change the facts. Like Linus, you will only end up frustrated and humiliated.
I can’t help but liken this to the attitude so many people have regarding their political agendas. They are willing to tow the party line no matter what the data shows because the only important thing is that it sounds good, looks good, is politically correct or gets your politician elected. Sometimes the scenario is flipped and we become like Linus’ friends, mocking and ridiculing those who stand up for something they believe that is actually correct. Not because we have proven them wrong, but what they say makes us uncomfortable or because it contradicts our worldview. At the end of the day though, we have to ask ourselves is truth more important than feelings? I admit, it’s not easy to give up something that makes us feel good, but the last thing I want is to end up like pitiful Charlie Brown, crying out in disappointment, “I got a rock!”
Better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie. -Khaled Hosseini