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.
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”.