I HATE school! The teachers are so mean! They have even turned my own mother against me! Why, they told mama to punish me for missing one word in Eve’s Creed! Just one word, and mama did what they told her to! I didn’t get to eat honey on my oats for a whole week! It was horrible!
I miss the old days at mama’s side, having fun with our relatives and friends. Even stupid, repetitive tasks like inspecting the work of the slaves was more fun than learning all the rules and doing all the homework the teachers require. Harmonia, what difference does one word really make? And why do I have to memorize so much? And who cares about proper titles and gestures and silly rules? Why can’t we all just keep behaving freely, like before I had to go to school? My life was so much better then.
Harmonia, my mother says you give the wisest advice in the Herstory of Evlantis. Won’t you please tell my teachers and my mama to stop being so picky? That rules are not such a big deal? If I hear the saying “Broken rules ruin lives” one more time I’m sure I’m going to start screaming and never stop! No one’s life was ruined when I forgot one word of Eve’s creed!
You are always talking about how women should learn to get along with each other. Please tell women to relax a little! I cry myself to sleep every night, wishing things were different, less strict than they are. Please, please tell them to be nicer, Harmonia. They will listen to you.
Begging for Mercy
Dear Begging for Mercy,
Mercy me, child! Do you expect Harmonia to take your side against centuries of learning and experience? You might as well as the ocean to stop its gentle rhythm upon Evlantis’s sacred shores. You might as well ask the mighty Sun to shine where and when you want it to. You might as well have asked Herstory to re-write itself to give our Dear Mother Eve a faithful companion. You might as well ask the legion of goddesses to get along with each other! You might as well as the slaves to be more huwoman!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at your letter. So I did both. And then I did something even wiser. I remembered, back to a time when I was your age, when the rules we live by did not make sense to me. How I felt tortured at being chastised for breaking them. How inconvenient it was to eat my vegetables with one implement and my meat with another. How I disliked curtseying to every priestess I passed on the street and saluting to every soldier. I thought that memorizing symbols for words and reading volumes of Herstory very dull indeed! I would rather have been at my mother’s side in the gossip parlor, listening to the latest scandal!
Yes, once even the great and wise Harmonia was once rough around the edges! And how you do you smooth rough edges? Why, you get a slave to file them, of course! Except in the case of personal growth and wisdom, it is the rules and regulations of Evlantis that chip away at our ignorance and failings with the result that our culture and customs flourish inside each of us.
You are a bright and precious jewel of Evlantis, child. You will carry the past forward into the future of our brilliant city. I know it may seem like drudgery now, leaving the joyous, carefree life of childhood behind. I know that not every rule we follow is convenient or fun or makes sense, but what I can tell you, dear child, that all together they have build a great city and secure culture for the nomadic women we were centuries ago. Once our ancestors had nowhere to call home! Home hearth and family, my dear child, is what each rule and regulation was put in place to protect.
So the next time a punishment seems harsh or senseless, know that each child before you once felt the same, and all the children after you will feel the same. But also trust, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when we all learn and follow the same rules we ensure that the glories of Evlantis will endure forever.
Thank you for your letter, it has been many years since I remembered what a jarring transition it was to leave my mother and begin school. I hope my words have given you, not mercy, but good reasons to to work harder. It will get easier as you get older.
My love to you,
One last thought: This won’t make sense to you now, but every city elder who reads this will nod her head in agreement. What are inconveniences now, will become comforts in later years. The practices and customs we share become far more dear than any memory of childhood. As Herstory unfolds and takes our loved ones away, one by one, we come to realize that what each of has has contributed to our city cannot be destroyed, because the every generation after us will also carry on the customs handed down by our ancestors with fidelity.