Recently we saw The Greatest Showman for the second time. Personally I loved it (I mean, I’ve gone twice and know all the songs already), but was he The Greatest Showman?
To this I say, who cares? All over Facebook I keep seeing people talking about how PT Barnum wasn’t a great guy. He used these people for his gain and is known for saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But did you know there is no evidence that he actually said that?
If you were to know me years ago I said a LOT of things that weren’t the best. Hell, I still say stupid stuff that makes quote books all over the office. Granted, I’m not PT Barnum, but he didn’t get famous until later.
In the movie I loved when he was talking to Tiny Tim and asked him to work for him to when Tim replies, “they’re just going to laugh at me.” Barnum replied with, “they’re laughing at you anyways. Wouldn’t you rather get paid for it?” I get it—not the nicest comment. But he was stating a fact. People were staring because this was something rare. Why not get paid for your oddity.
Annie Jones Elliot was another great example. Popular for the title of the bearded lady, here was a person that was ridiculed for her rare condition, but people found it interesting. She toured with the circus because she felt like she could finally fit in somewhere. The thing is, this was all done years ago. Things were so different then. Does that make it okay? No, but it does show us that he thought outside the box. He took these oddities in people helped them feel important and find a place where they belonged, home.
Maybe this year, instead of instantly focusing on the bad things people do or have done we can focus on the good. The Greatest Showman was a fantastic movie with great lessons. Let’s stop sharing how awful of a man PT Barnum was, and look at what great of a showman he became.
One thing that hasn’t gone away through time is the bullying. It’s still here and he took those different people, those bullied, and made them feel loved. He created a community where their weird to the world felt normal. They found a home where they could fit in. If we could take that part of PT Barnum and make those around us that may feel “weird” feel accepted.
Raising kids in a world where there is bullying (and especially cyber bullying) is scary. Bullying is one thing I can’t stand. No matter who it’s happening to. If I see it happening, I go crazy and major protective. Let us create a community where we, the freaks and weirdos of the world, can feel normal. Enough judging everyone and let’s start lifting each other up.
To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter. — P. T. Barnum