Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Has Disney Taught Me?

Much to my wife Stephanie's delight, our three kids that are still at home all started school this week. One in junior high, one in high school, and one in college. So this past weekend was their last weekend of freedom. Well, not Stephanie's, her freedom started Monday morning.

Roro and Aarim both had important end-of-summer parties to attend. Tian Tian's life is a little different, though—he didn't have any parties, nor did I. Instead, he and I spent a thrilling evening searching for Disney music videos on YouTube. You can't beat that for an exciting Saturday night! Of course we found multiple language versions of Let it Go along with other fabulous hits.

Other than a monstrous global empire, what has Disney offered the world? Are our kids better or worse with Nemo toothbrushes and Olaf pillowcases? That's a question to be argued many ways, but one answer came my older daughter Miara, who once said, "The problem with the world today is people don't watch enough Disney movies." Disney may teach a lot of strange values—I mean, how come all the characters come from broken families? And they could all avoid a lot of problems if they'd just learn to communicate! But in the end, good always triumphs over evil and the bad guys always die a horrible death, like falling off a cliff or getting eaten by a crocodile.

A few years ago on a family hike in the nearby mountains, I teased the kids on how they all still liked Disney movies and songs, even as teenagers. I asked what they thought were the most important Disney songs. I suggested Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas. It may not be the best of Disney, but I think it really resonates today—probably even more so now than three years ago when we talked about this. Here's one verse.

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew

It may seem quaint or cheesy, but with all the hatred, violence, extremism, and conflict in the world, perhaps everyone should memorize this verse.

Aarim mentioned the song God Help the Outcasts from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Just today, I read that 3,000 refugees a day are crossing into Europe from the Mideast and Africa. Who is more outcast than homeless, stateless war refugees? While a sudden influx of refugees is a tough thing for any country to deal with, especially a smaller nation, it kind of bothers me when people show hatred for the newcomers, wherever they happen to be in the world. What would you do if you were in a war-torn country? It's very heartwarming, though, when refugees or migrants are treated with kindness and respect.

In this scene from the movie, the outcast gypsy Esmeralda is in the great cathedral praying to God.

Yes, I know I'm just an outcast
I shouldn't speak to you
Still I see Your face and wonder...
Were You once an outcast too?

God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth
Show them the mercy 
They don't find on earth

Please help my people
The poor and downtrod
I thought we all were
The children of God

Any other suggestions for important Disney songs?