A Box of Chocolates | CraigDailyPress.com

A Box of Chocolates

Lance Scranton


The movie Forrest Gump has a famous throw-away line that has become etched in the American consciousness.

“Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you are going to get.” That line always bothered me because words mean things and analogies of this kind don’t really help us understand life and its complications or complexities. But, human nature, being what it is, tends toward simplistic explanations for life’s many twists and turns.

Sure, you might not know what you are getting in that box of chocolates, but most every box tells you exactly what you are getting if you take the time to read what’s in the box or on the box! Analogies are important in our increasingly difficult to understand world, but sometimes people just go a bit too far to make a point. Former President Bush compared the Capitol breach on January 6th to 9-11 terrorists. Wow! I didn’t notice mass casualties or people fleeing for their lives by the thousands.

Some are comparing the unvaccinated to terrorists who are causing great and catastrophic results for innocent people in our country. It’s really hard to argue with a person about an analogy when they just blurt it out and there really isn’t time to think about it critically. Are unvaccinated people really going around the country with evil intent, contriving ways to make as many people sick with COVID as they can to prove some deeply held religious belief? Really? Seriously?

Why do we conflate our disagreements to such a degree of unreasonableness these days? Maybe it’s because there are so many voices screaming to be heard that the only way to get any attention is to say something that will attract people to listen. It’s not a very good way to convince people, as has been evidenced by the unusually (and increasingly) high amount of people who have a mistrust of our government (wait! Didn’t that used to be a good thing?).

My job is to teach, and it is really difficult to expect students to reach a level of mature critical thinking when there is so much evidence for the opposite in our culture. Analogies can be useful, helpful, and encourage understanding but can also be pretty harmful to the national discourse. If only Forest had said, “Life is like a box of chocolates — read the box — and you’ll have a pretty good idea what you’re going to get.”

I guess that might be asking too much — or maybe it isn’t.

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