The backstory here is a little more complicated than usual: Our household has a long-running interest in pirates, one that pre-dates today's faddish pirate popularity. Over the years, it's become clear to JT that pirates have a dubious claim on moral value, but his fascination continues unabated. And for the past two years, I have steadily exposed him to politics and the news. This has led to a number of very thoughtful conversations as I've tried to explain the world to JT in terms that he can understand. I want him to have his own political and moral compass, and I want him to understand my values.
So it was that in the past few weeks, we followed the Somali pirate story on NPR. We talked about the situation (including the economic and political chaos in Somalia), we looked at maps to see where these places were, and we cheered when the captain of the Maersk Alabama was rescued by the Navy.
The New York city arrival of Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the sole surviving pirate, was particularly fascinating to JT. We looked at the pictures on-line and listened to the NPR story about Muse's appearance in court. Among other things, that story reported that Muse faces the prospect of life in prison and will have an American attorney appointed for him, since he doesn't have funds to pay for his own defense. NPR also reported that when the judge quizzed Muse about his family, Muse cried.
It was this final revelation that struck JT. Questions followed.
JT: If he goes to jail for the rest of his life, will he ever see his family again?
Mama: Well, he will be in an American jail and his family will be far away in Somalia, so I guess that it would be very hard for him to see his family.
And then a pause, while my 9 year old contemplated the world as he knows it.
JT: What he did was wrong, Mama, but he must have been desperate to do it, don't you think?
Looks to me like his moral compass is coming along quite nicely..