"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
September 15, 2011
The moral dialogue continues
by Orson Scott Card

Father: What did you do, Erinel?

Erinel: He hit me on the head! With a big block!

F: I know. Why do you think he did that?

E: Because he's mean!

F: Is he really? Then why did you want him to play with you? Do you like playing with mean people?

E: No.

F: Charlie's not mean. So why did he hit you?

E: I kicked down his city.

F: Yeah, you sure did. You knocked down every single block. Look at this -- there's not two blocks where Charlie put them. Nothing that he built is left.

E: No.

F: You did a very thorough job. How long did it take you? Show me. Act it out, let me see what you did.

E: I don't want to.

F: You don't want to show me how you kicked it all down? You don't want me to see?

E: [Ashamed] No.

F: Well, let me imagine it then. You ran here, and here, and here, and that did the job, didn't it? It took about three kicks and it was all wrecked.

E: Maybe.

F: How long did it take him to build it?

E: I don't know.

F: Do you think he built it in three kicks? Did he just run in and swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, there was the city?

E: [Laughing] No. It took longer.

F: It took a long time. He worked hard on it. He had a plan. Some of those buildings were really tall. It's hard to make tall buildings, isn't it?

E: They fall over.

F: Your brother Charlie loves to make things, Erinel. He's a maker. That's one of the ways that he's like Heavenly Father. Because he sees a bunch of blocks and he imagines what they might be if he puts them together a certain way, and then he does it, and he's good at it, isn't he, Erinel?

E: I'm not as good at it.

F: Not yet. You haven't had much practice.

E: I don't like doing it.

F: And you don't have to. Nobody makes you build with blocks if you don't want to. Do I ever tell you, Erinel, you can't leave your room until you've built a tower at least four blocks high!

E: [laughing] No.

F: Could I make you build a tower? Could I hold your wrists and force you to pick up the blocks and put them in place?

E: Maybe. You're really big and I'm just little.

F: Would it be fun? If you really didn't want to, and I made you anyway?

E: No.

F: Isn't that what you were doing with Charlie? He really didn't want to go out and play with you right then. But you decided to make him do it. You decided that he had to come and play with you right that minute. And if he didn't want to, you'd stop him from building his city.

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E: It's no fun by myself!

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F: But Erinel, when you kicked down his city, did Charlie go out and play with you?

E: He hit me.

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}

F: When you want Charlie to play with you, wrecking what he's doing doesn't work, does it?

E: No.

F: What about waiting until he finished building the city? Would that have worked?

E: It was taking so long! Hours and hours!

F: And he loves doing it, doesn't he? It makes him happy to build things. He was happy, wasn't he? Don't you want him to be happy?

{

}

E: I wanted to play with Charlie!

F: Charlie doesn't belong to you. You don't get to decide. You can ask, but he gets to say no. Do you understand?

E: Yes.

F: And you don't get to break what other people have built. Do you understand me? Even when you're angry, if someone else built something, you have no right to break it.

E: If I do they'll hit me.

F: Charlie won't hit you again. He's working on that. That's not why you don't break things. Erinel, making things is hard, but it's a good thing to do. A beautiful thing. Don't be a breaker of things that other people made, Erinel.

E: I won't break his city again.

F: Look at these blocks scattered all over the floor. When Charlie comes back in here, it'll make him sad to pick them up, because he'll remember how it used to be, and how it got broken. Why don't you and I pick them up and put them away together? For Charlie.

E: Then will he play with me?

F: I don't know, Erinel. You really hurt his feelings when you broke his city. But he's your brother, and he loves you. Do you forgive him for hitting you?

E: Yes! Yes, I do!

F: Then when we've got this all cleaned up, you go tell him that, and ask him to forgive you for breaking his city, and see what happens.


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More by Orson Scott Card

About Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts.

Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs plays. He also teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.

Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.

More about Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card currently serves as second counselor in the bishopric.

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