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The wisdom of a child - Greg Gelpi

Bopping the pi?ata with a bat, the enthusiastic student pummeled his classmate in effigy.

Fellow students watched as the student election turned dirty and simply stood by and witnessed the act, but the images on the television prompted 2-year-old Barrett to declare unwaveringly, "That's mean!"

Visiting my girlfriend's family this past weekend, I watched as her nephew struggled to find the right words to describe his mood and turned nanas (his word for "bananas") into squishy messes. Still, he and his two-years' worth of wisdom could point out what many adults either can't comprehend or, more than likely, simply refuse to acknowledge.

Unfortunately, that simplicity and innocence in knowing right and wrong was nowhere to be found when defrocked priest Paul Shanley was sentenced Tuesday on child rape charges.

The priest is human and, therefore, subject to all faults and weaknesses of any human, but as an adult, particularly a priest, he should have had the wisdom to at least admit the obvious – that what he had done for years was wrong.

I don't want to belittle what his victim endured and continues to endure, but I have to refer to my girlfriend's nephew and his two words, two syllables, which hold more wisdom than perhaps Barrett could comprehend when they were first spoken.

Crawling up beside me, the child proceeded to roll up his sleeves, his eyes fixed on the Butterfinger ice cream in my bowl.

Barrett demonstrated what I (in my infinite wisdom and extensive psychological training) firmly believe. Ultimately, people are simple and act simply.

Somewhere along the way, the art of crafting nuances and weaving intricate patterns of half-truths, mistruths and untruths replaced that simplicity.

Also this week, a jury found 15-year-old Christopher Pittman guilty of murdering his grandparents, but not before he seized national attention for his claim that the antidepressant medication Zoloft somehow caused him to commit the crimes. According to reports, the boy said the medicine muddled his sense of right and wrong.

The innocence, brilliance and insight of a 2-year-old somehow twists and distorts over time, and perhaps another image from this weekend provides some glimpse into why.

Dreading the shopping mall more than I dread a day without sugar, I painfully admit that this weekend of revelations and insights found that one "trendy" national clothing retailer attempted to capitalize on this concept of simple wants and simple desires.

Abercrombie & Fitch draped half-clothed youths across the entranceway of its store in hopes that the live "models" would somehow spur sales.

A quick aside? How does a guy without a shirt make someone want to buy a shirt?

But, more importantly, these kids were paid to sit, to do absolutely nothing but sit. My first job was working at a pizza joint in Baton Rouge and I don't claim that any first job actually requires any mental or intellectual stimulation. Some form of intellectual exercise would be nice, though, and perhaps wouldn't stymie the use of intellect and thought.

In essence, these "models," though, were paid not to think because even half a thought would have made any teen realize that a plastic mannequin could perform the same function.

Intellect can come in the strangest forms and in the strangest places, but rather than digging through all of the intricacies of adult logic and thought, we should pay more attention to the simplicity of the wisdom of children before it becomes corrupted.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.