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Rudolph vs The Drummer Boy, and What’s Wrong with America!

DRUMMEROkay nothing alien-themed here, just my crazy Non-Holiday Holiday Blog for ya!

It’s a simple “Comparison & Contrast” Essay – the kind we all had to write in school.

In true English 101 Style, I’m going to compare and contrast what I see as glaring differences in the overall MESSAGES INHERENT WITHIN the stories and songs of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Little Drummer Boy” and just exactly what VALUES are being represented to kids through them.

Yeh I know… “Only you, Guy…..” 😉

At the beginning of the Rudolph story, we meet a lonely outcast – a freak, who nobody liked, wanted around them, and who wasn’t even allowed to play in “any reindeer games.” Been there.

BUT THEN all of sudden they find something USEFUL for him to do and Boom. Over… night… celebrity. “THEN how the reindeer loved him..”   (It’s tragic how we don’t necessarily value others as simply being valuable and having intrinsic worth because they’re alive and in our lives. No, we are like consumers – of people.  So often, we sadly only value others when they can produce something for us.)

But my main point here – for comparison to The The Little Drummer Boy – is that Rudolph achieved this celebrity status and going “down in history” NOT based upon any hard work of his own. There was no determination on his part to overcome his tragic circumstances. He made absolutely no effort to change his lot in life. None! And yet through no force of will or even trying on his part, his life just suddenly changed overnight. Without lifting a darn finger (or, hoof) he achieved “hero status,” and apparently lived happily ever after.

So, I’m merely pointing out that American kids are soaking up the message that their life can change and they can become successful and happy with absolutely no effort on their part. And yes, I realize that actually CAN happen to people, it’s just strikes me as really defeatist that from such an early age kids are taught to assume that this might actually be how life works. (Okay, it’s a fairy tale, I know, and I’m making a bigger deal out of than perhaps I should, but just for fun!)

By contrast, meet The Little Drummer Boy.

He was a big fat nodody, from nowhere, who had nothing. He had no inheritance coming, and no winning lottery ticket under his pillow. He also had no shiny mutation or genetic x-factor that was going to spring up in puberty and make him more powerful than others. He was like you and me for the most part, and was probably going to wind up as insignificant in this life as insignificant gets.

But… he wasn’t satisfied to let that happen, nor to merely sit around waiting for the miracle to come that would take his own life over the rainbow. The Little Drummer Boy, unlike Rudolph, had a little drive. He had an interest -perhaps a passion – for developing the gift that was in him, into a genuine skill.

Drummer Boy did not spend his days in idleness, nor fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way. Drummer Boy got to work. Drummer Boy practiced. When the crying time was over, Drummer Boy got good at something.

And in the fullness of time, Drummer Boy found himself at the right place, at the right time. When everybody else around him was showering the Incarnate Son of God with gifts, altho Drummer Boy had “no gift to bring” (pa rum pa pum pum) … “that’s fit to give a King” (pa rum pa pum pum) he was NOT in fact empty-handed.

Drummer Boy played.

The ox and lamb kept time. (pa rum pa pum pum)

He played his best for Him. (pa rum pa pum pum)

Annnnnnd God smiled at him.

We don’t actually know whatever became of Little Drummer Boy, but with a start in life like THAT, I can only imagine he went far. He at least (like Rudolph) also went down in history, and today his song too is still sung.

However, here’s my issue. Of the two songs, which one is the more popular and well-known? It’s Rudolph, by a large margin. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is in fact the 2nd best selling Christmas song of all time (White Christmas is #1).

To be honest, I had to Google the lyrics to Little Drummer Boy just to quote it accurately above for you. Heck, if it weren’t for Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, would any of us today really even know the song at all? And that’s what I’m saying about American values, and the lessons we’re passing on being apparent in what is most popular!

The message inherent in The Little Drummer Boy, and the lesson it teaches, is to my thinking farrrrr more morally superior to the values present in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and clearly the message that should be instilled into our future generations. It’s a story of over-coming adversity and disadvantage through discipline, and of making something of one’s self when the odds are stacked against you. (“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”)

But it’s not just about you – oh no. It’s also the story of how God approves of (smiles upon) those who fan the flame of the gift that is in them, and then how He uses your skill to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rudolph is a merely a story – inspirational somewhat, yes – of how your luck can change even if you do nothing. Stretching things a bit, it might even be argued that it’s a story of how what you think is a handicap can be a blessing. I’ll give it that even. But, between teaching kids about things getting better in spite of your lack of effort, or BECAUSE OF your efforts – which is truly the better message and value to instill in young minds?

Thanks for hanging with me this long. I’ll end by saying Opportunity favors the Prepared… May both the miraculous providence that appeared suddenly in Rudolph’s life AND may the drive and determination that characterized The Little Drummer Boy’s life, be yours in 2012.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…” 2 Tim 1:6 and “Do not neglect your gift…” 1 Tim 4:14


Guy Malone

Joan Jett – Little Drummer Boy (Live)

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