By David Elliot
There’s a movie opening this weekend called “Tomorrowland” and I’m not sure if the Disney “imagineers” had anything to do with it, but the premise of looking to a better tomorrow in the future has me on board.
Dystopian films, where the future is about as unpleasant as it can possibly get, as fodder for movie magic, is hopefully on the wane. Though I ruefully must admit that “Mad Max: Fury Road” is still revealing the death of civilization, and cleaning up at the box office while it does.
The power of positivity in imagination is what we should be feeding our kids in what they take in, before they have to deal with harsh realities.
I know what you’re thinking. What about those brothers called Grimm? What about kids being readied as a tasty treat by a witch? What about all those mean step mothers and not a kind one in the bunch?
Wasn’t that a form of realism in the long ago that prepared young readers for the failings of good fortune?
Yes! But it did so with a hopefulness in its arc that said to kids, “Things may get tough, you’ll be hard pressed, but everything will work out if you try your hardest, and are true to who you are.” In other words, look at life with a positive attitude; with new eyes every day. Things can change – for the better.
Long way round the block to Henry the pig; stargazer. He literally sees himself in the configuration of the constellations he looks up at, come nightfall. He sees himself, Henry the starry pig aloft in the heavens and calls it…. the “Great Pig in the Sky.” Pretty neat!
So happy is he that he drags his friends, the beautiful ovines named Maisie, Daisy, and Clementine, a sheep trio, to gaze in wonder at Henry in the heavens.
Wrong! Instead, they see a “Great Sheep.” And what of Abigail the cow? Think she sees the same as the rest? Nope. She sees a “Great Star Cow.” Natch!
And I don’t even have to relate what Mr. Brown, the horse, perceives in the heavens. But I will. He sees a “Great Starry Horse.”
And of course, the chickens join in, with feathers pointing heavenward at the “Heavenly Hens.”
What is it our children see when they look at a cloud patch on a dreamy summer day. Chances are it’s not what you see, even if you point and say, “Look at the …..”
They are their own “imagineers” as it were. And as long as we parents feed that part of them, fully and faithfully, dystopia be darned, they will create a “Tomorrowland” of their lives that will be every bit as wonderful and lasting and creative and changeable as Walt Disney imagined. Come to think of it, we need a Walt Disney today!
I am reminded of a Cherokee legend. A grandfather says to his grandson that two wolves are in a battle inside him… as well as every other person. One wolf is evil; full of sorrow, self-pity, anger, envy and resentment. The other is good; full of peace, hope, kindness, compassion and faith.
The young boy asks, “Which one wins?” The grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”
Thank you, Henry and Mr. Elliot, for pointing young readers to the stars, and not merely to the constant drumbeat of unpleasant realities.
They may come to young readers soon enough. Please let them dream a while longer, maybe even through a lifetime, of the stars.
Feed the good wolf of Tomorrowland in your children, and of what is possible if we allow them to dream with hopeful hearts!
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