Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Understand the Misunderstood

Act #22:  Dig Deeper

Yes, I have been described by some as “annoyingly optimistic”, but I’m not totally naive.  And while it is a source of personal struggle, I recognize that sometimes there is evil lurking out there in the world.  This often presents a parenting dilemma for me as I watch my 5-year old engaged in imaginative play with his action figures.  Even though he’s not allowed to watch any of the cartoons, read the comics, or watch the movies, for some reason, the superheroes are always pitted against the villains, and there is always, always some sort of battle - no matter how many times I model alternative non-violent play options.  “Jack, don’t you think Batman and Joker might want to go camping together?  Maybe they can talk things out.” or “Jack, I wonder what is making that Bane so angry.  Maybe he’s misunderstood.”  Needless to say, he greatly prefers action figure play with his father.

I’d like to introduce you to a cute and smart little boy named Max.  His family was Jewish, and he lived in Germany, where his father was a decorated soldier.  During the war,  Max and his family fled to Poland, but they were captured and his father, mother, and sister were executed by the Nazis.   Max escaped and was sent to Auschwitz and suffered great hardship and torture.  After the war, he fell in love, had a daughter named Anya who was killed when a mob burned down his house.  Max’s anger manifested into uncontrollable powers and he became Magneto, a mutant who desired to dominate the human race as he viewed humans as an outdated species that no longer deserved its continual domination over the world.  Magneto, as you may know, is one of the top 100 villains in the X-men comics.

Yes, there is evil in the world and yes, Magneto’s subsequent reign of terror, destruction, and killing of innocent lives is deplorable and unacceptable.  But how many little boys named Max do you know with contemporary stories that might resemble Magneto’s?  So while I want to raise my son to be careful and to have good judgment, to understand consequences, to keep himself safe and stay away from danger, I will always challenge him to think beyond the status quo of “Good v. Evil”.  And deep down inside I hope he always leaves a little room in the back of his mind for the possibility that maybe, just maybe someone’s anger, mistrust, hatred might have evolved from pain and suffering.  That redemption is possible.  That Magneto may have indeed, been gravely misunderstood.

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