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“Good” and “Bad”

29 Dec

Since Paul started school, he has become a boy of his environment outside of the house. I knew this was going to happen and I’m accepting of some of the things he is learning as “normal” and there some thing I wish I had more say in.

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luke fighting vader

Killing “bad” people is not something that I can wrap my brain around. I grew up with violence outside the house and no one told me that the ‘bad’ people needed to be killed by the “good” people. Identifying people as “good” or “bad” was not taught to me.

We have never used the term “good boy” or “bad boy” in regards to him or to him. I was insistent on making sure he knew that those two terms were based on behaviors and not the being of a person. We are neither good nor bad, sometimes we behave in ways that are deemed good or bad based on the rules of conduct set up for us by our culture to follow. It’s pretty simple. You are not good or bad, you just are.

That being said, I realized in the past year or so that I have competition that is stronger than I can ever be. Star Wars has entered my home on a level so much bigger than I could imagine. My lessons of value and identity are mere words when Star Wars has set up a pretty cut and dry idea of GOOD and BAD. George Lucas in all his movie making wisdom made the people of the Empire bad with simple identifiers: They wear black clothes, have deep voices, the deep foreboding music as Vader entered a room, the Emperors maniacal laugh and electrical finger tips. The gray skin of people who don’t smile or go outside to look at the suns. They are bad because they have one purpose: to protect the Empire by killing whatever gets in their way. The Rebels are good. They wear white, they have a wide range of emotions, they train in nature, they have forest friends and discuss their emotions instead of reacting instantly. They don’t make the first move but will kill if they have to. They are good because they are fighting for freedom from the Evil Empire. It’s pretty cut and dry. I get it. I’m not criticizing Star Wars, I know not to because there are way too many adult men who will deem me as ignorant of the genius of the Star Wars magic. I accept that.

My issue is what it’s done to my son’s perceptive of identifying those who could justifiably kill. I see it in his drawings. He draws the “good” guy with a smile and with lighter colors and the “bad” guy with a frown and darker claustrophobic cloths. I hear it in his language and questions about laws that are for the good and for the bad. It’s in his playing now. This week he created a couple of characters with his Lego’s and was making shooting sounds. I asked him what was happening. He showed me his characters and told me which one was bad because he was a burglar and a murder and which one was good because he was killing the bad guy. WHAT? I had to step outside of my thoughts for a second and not get emotional about it. I asked him why killing the burglar was okay to which he said because he is doing something that’s against the law which makes him a bad guy. When I told him that based on that reasoning, when the good guy kills the other guy, he becomes a bad guy because killing is against the law. At this time, he waved his hand at me like he was done with me and my lack of understanding of the obvious. I walked away from this brokenhearted. My son is becoming a member of our social structure that is able to justify behaviors toward others by creating the “other” or “them”.

Yes, I know that some will think that this is human nature or a ‘boy’ thing. I can’t argue against it anymore, I’m tired. Boys will be boys but when they become men with their “natural” tendencies we deem them as “bad” and punish them. There has to be a moment when we stop allowing ourselves to teach our children to think in such black/white ways because as we see in our culture, our world, what thinking in absolutes creates. Endless wars against the “other”, revenge and discrimination of people we don’t understand or accept because they don’t fit our understanding of “good”. I want more for my son. It hurts me to know how many more obstacles there are in making the world a better place when you have such powerful influences that tell him that things are simply identified based on the easy terms of “good” and “bad”.

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5 Comments

Posted by on December 29, 2011 in life with the pauls

 

5 responses to ““Good” and “Bad”

  1. Renee Simonds Bowyer

    December 31, 2011 at 1:19 am

    I know you already do this, but just a little reminder. Read! Read with him. Often. Talk to teachers, social workers, therapists, librarians; search out books that focus on the fact that sometimes there isn’t a good or a bad, a right or a wrong, sometimes, things just are. Reading together will give you the chance to pull him out of the Star Wars universe for a bit, and ask him questions based on the actions of people who cannot use The Force, for good, or for evil.

     
  2. Kenny Bowyer

    December 31, 2011 at 10:23 am

    It’s kind of a cursory glance at the Star Wars universe. The main lesson between “good” and “evil”, the light and dark sides, is actually a good lesson. The Jedi use self-restraint and inner peace as a strength to affect the world around them. The Sith embrace the power of anger, rage and vengence to harness their power. There is also the political “good” and “evil” addressed in the Empire and Rebellion. Democratic Republic vs Totalitarian Dictatorship. It’s also not very cut and dry. The story as a whole shows that there is good and evil in all of us, it’s how you choose to proceed in life that makes the difference. It also shows that no one is beyond redemption. Just as a side note. The bad guys wear mostly white, and the good guys wear almost everything but white. Luke wears all black once he becomes a Jedi.

     
  3. Renee Simonds Bowyer

    January 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Read what Kenny said to the 6 yr old boy and tell me how he responds, please. I’m sure it will be amusing.

     
    • iamhoury

      January 3, 2012 at 3:59 am

      Oh Renee, I wish you were here to watch the absolutely funny conversation. A 6 year old’s absolute perspective of the Star Wars world doesn’t have room for the deeply analyzed 40- something view of the same world. After telling him all the gray areas of Kenny’s statement and how complex the simple words of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are, he thought about it for a second and said “yea, but Anakin went to go the dark side because he wanted power and he had lots of scars because he fell into the volcano.” Yup, he’s 6 years old and I’m tired after that.

       
  4. stdeville

    January 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    (while my comment does not address the deeper reality of the civil wars you have witnessed and how that must strum a different tune in your soul than the one produced by my persepctive-this is what i think anyway-for what it is worth.)

    in 1938, martial arts master morihei uyeshiba wrote this in his text ‘instructions for beginners’:

    “enter by form, and exit from form”

    our boys are entering form via clear cut dualities that they understand in order to build their own character and find their place in the world…eventually they will exit from form into a more nuanced world. at this point, their worlds are very allegorical.

    and as small children at an age where they now realize they are small in a huge world, i find that many children begin a quest for discovering their own strength and power around 5-6 years old-which is not only a survival instinct (categorization) but an essential part of the first steps of building something that can later be deconstructed. your boy is also intensely intelligent-you can see it in him. he questions-he will eventually question the world he build as a small boy.

     

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