the compass

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
7 min readJun 10, 2024


Tater and Ella and Rosie having “class”

Filly held the compass in her palm, flat and watched the needle waver, and then she put it down and the needle settled pointing north.

The compass had been a gift, for the game they played when they were pretending to be pirates. They also had a “sunken treasure” chest and lots of glittery jewels to go searching for when they were swimming.

But this time, the compass was not going to be used for pretending to be pirates. This day it was about being explorers. Filly was going to teach them about it.

The class was lined up against the wall. They did not have chairs and they were just sitting on the floor. They had already learned as much as the teacher was going to teach them that day and now Filly had the last class of the day, being a sub for the regular teacher “Tater”, who was about ready to put the “students” (dolls) to bed for the day.

At first Filly held up the compass and asked “Class, do you know what this is?”
“Yes” Tater answered, pretending to talk for one of the dolls in a high squeaky little voice.

“It is a compass and it helps you know how to find North so you can know how to go the right direction” said Tater.

“Yes” said Filly in her serious pretend teacher voice. The compass points to the earths magnetic north and it coincides with true north on a map.

Then she changed her voice and got an even more dramatic voice.
“TODAY CLASS I am going to change this one compass” Filly said boldly.
“Today I have decided that I believe that THIS COMPASS should point South, not North” she said flatly.

“Wait, what?” Tater said questioningly?.
“It is not a compass if it does not point north” Tater said. “It will take you in the wrong direction”. “If I want to explore, I first have to have a good compass that works” Tater said.
“You do not have to worry about it” said Filly. “You still have your own compass to use to get directions”.

“But your a grown up, and what if I am following you because I do not really know how to use a compass yet” said Tater, “I would be going the wrong way too because I am watching you”. “I would not be exploring, I would be getting lost” Tater said, frustrated.

Tater was now standing up demandingly, hands on her hips, feet stomping the ground.
“You should not mess with the compass because it is perfect the way it is” Tater said. “It gives perfect directions”.

“Well, what if I were to tell you that a very important company agreed with me, and believed, like me, that the compass should be able to point south just because we wanted it to, and they made a whole batch of compass’s that do not point north” said Filly.
“What?” “Are you crazy?” said Tater, and she ran over to the dolls lined up against the wall and said “don’t listen to her” to her dolls. Then Tater tried putting her hands over all their ears.
“She is wrong wrong wrong” Tater said.

“How can I convince you” Filly asked? “What if the US GOVERNMENT said that the compass can point south, not north, and they were ready to make a law that said that people had to accept that some compasses would give good directions and point north, while others would not because they pointed south, and that people would have to figure it out on their own and that they should tolerate that.”
Tater had her hands on her ears “NOT LISTENING NOT LISTENING” she said. “GOD does not want you or anyone else to lie” Tater said.

“Everyone knows if it is a compass, it is made to point North. If it does not point North, it is not a compass. There is no such thing as a compass that points south. NO compromise.” Tater was not to be swayed.
Filly smiled.
“Good job Tater” she said. “You and your class just learned the lesson I wanted you to learn”.

Filly continued with her teaching saying, “You also have an inner “compass” that tells you when something is right and when it is wrong.” “Even when other people say it is “ok” to do something wrong, you can know that when something is right, it will produce good things, but when it is wrong, it will produce division, controversy and unhappiness”.

“Parents help kids learn the difference between right and wrong, so that they have a working “inner compass” and that ensures their long term happiness”, Filly said.

“If a parent does not teach a kid when something is wrong, they are not doing their job as parents”.

“Oh and when a parent teaches kids what is right and what is wrong, like they are supposed to, then the kids do not have to “reinvent the wheel” so to speak”.

“What do you mean” asked Tater.

“Well, If you let a kid believe that a light bulb could be a switch, and that a switch could be a light bulb, when that is not what they were made to do, then even when both things got broken down into their basic components, they would not be able to use much of their original “equipment” and the good and working parts that were perfect the way they were, would be wasted, which is wrong”. “You would have to break them both”. “Why would you want to do that when they both were wonderful the way they were made?”

“They would have to each be “reinvented” in order to work, when they already worked perfectly ”, Filly said. “If society did not recognize that it was doing a disservice to the switch and the light bulb, to ignore their original purposes, that would be a wrong decision” Filly said.

“People are the same in that they are already made perfectly to fit into a specific role in society, and that role is well defined and includes all the perfect equipment that does not need to be dismantled and reconfigured to work well and, more importantly to be happy” She added.
“Have you ever heard of the story of “The emperors new clothes” Filly asked?
“In that story,” Filly said, “the head of a country, a king, “believed” that he was wearing beautiful clothes because the person who sold him the clothes said that they were of the finest thread and of the most expensive quality fabric” yet the head of the country could not actually “SEE” any truth to what he was being told.
He could not see any VISIBLE clothes.

He did not know that the person who made the clothes was just pretending and wanted to see how many people he could trick into believing him, because there were NO clothes at all.

Because the king was afraid to be called stupid or blind, he got tricked and said that he saw the expensive clothes and put the “invisible” clothes on. When a person, even a king, is afraid to do the right thing, he is going to look even more dumb when everyone finds out he made a bad decision because he was not listening to what is right (his inner compass). He knew that their were no clothes but he did not stand up for what was the truth.

All the people around him could see he was flat out nakey, but they also got tricked and did not tell the head of the country that he was nakey because they did not want to be called stupid or blind either… so they did not listen to their inner compass either.
It was the little child who did not get tricked and who knew that the person who made the clothes was playing a joke on everyone and who saw the king and yelled out “The king is naked”.

“Sometimes it takes little children to help grown ups realize when something is not good and right” Filly said. Do you think that the grown ups in that story would stand up and say NO, THE KING IS NAKEY if the king had said that it was a good idea for ALL the little children to “wear” the same invisible clothes as he was wearing”? Would they STILL be afraid to say the truth? Would they still worry about what the king said or would they care more about how to take care of their children?

Filly thought to herself that there was a story in the bible where two women said a child was theirs and King Solomon said that the baby had to be cut in half in order that both women could have part of the baby. The REAL mother would not “sacrifice” her child or let her child be made into a human sacrifice in order to prove the kid was hers or that she was right. She would care more about the welfare of the child and would not let it get cut, physically or emotionally. She picked “life” for her child. A much deeper lesson than the story of the emperors new clothes Filly thought.

Oh that story of the nakey king is so funny hahaha laughed Tater. “I like when kids are smarter than grown ups”. “I know you would want me to tell the king he was nakey”. Lets go read that book.
And so they did.



Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.