Abby Can Think For Herself


Abby Sunderland

Abby Sunderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I posted this comment on the L.A. Times web page. They haven’t published it (yet?):


I have been reading of the criticism against the parents of Abby Sunderland because they allowed her to embark on her wild adventure alone.

As a parent, and as a professional mariner with personal experience of the southern oceans, I am able to sympathize with many who are naturally concerned for the welfare of this courageous young lady.

BUT, if they are concerned, how do they think her parents feel? One is overwhelmed by the thought of conflicting emotions that must have been a source of concern and mental turmoil. This is a determined young daughter who is ready to face the world. There comes a time when the parents must let go.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t still care, or that they will no longer be there for her. Proverbs 22: 6 tells us to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Abby’s parents taught her all she knows. They helped her plan and equip. They recruited sponsors. They provided information around the world so that she could be monitored.

She was ready.

Sailing around the world is dangerous and lonely. But it isn’t as important nor as demanding as sailing the ocean of life. Why are the critics not concerned with that? I am sure that Abby is equipped and trained for that more important voyage as well.

What does youth have to do with it?

Joan of Arc was twelve when she started having visions. At sixteen, she was wearing a suit of armor and going to war. At seventeen she had become such a phenomenon, that she was taken by her enemies and burned at the stake!

Alexander the Great was thirteen when he started studying under Aristotle. He was sixteen when His father Phillip left him in charge of the Macedonian kingdom, during which time, he commanded an army that put down the Maedi rebels. At eighteen, he was given charge of half the kingdom’s army while he led them, with his father’s army, to victory into the Peloponnese. By the age of twenty, he had succeeded his father, and embarked on a military campaign that didn’t end until he reached India.

Everybody seems already to have forgotten Robin Lee Graham, who in 1965, at the age of sixteen, was the youngest to circumnavigate the world (most of it in a twenty-four footer). He was a real navigator – used a sextant and chronometer. Very little in the way of electronics. Nobody criticized his parents!

Her own brother had done it at the age of sixteen.

Critics of the parents are a siren reflecting the times. There was a time when we were free to live our own lives. But we have entered an age when we are told what is good for us, what to eat, how to think, what not to say, and even whether we deserve our hard earned accoutrements of the American dream. In short we are being told when to dream! We should go back to democracy! It works!

Abby might never have forgiven her parents if they had stood in her way to fulfill her dream!


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