My 14 year old daughter is writing a paper at the moment about Freedom and she was discussing with the family how she was going to compare the ‘Kony 2012’ movement with the women’s rights movement. And during this discussion on how ideas start and spread I pulled out one of my favourite Gloria Steinem quotes:
And then I gave her a wonderful one by Jane Goodall:
And finally, before I left to give my son a driving lesson I pulled out a deep and awesome quote that teaches us that small, every day acts make a difference, but I didn’t tell her who said it until afterwards.
I asked “Do you know who said that?”
“No” she replied, looking enquiringly.
She tilted her head and looked at me as if I had been no help whatsoever and I was just being silly.
Now I take exception to this notion she seemed to convey that imaginary people can’t be deep and inspirational. Or right. Because he is right. Just because he isn’t real doesn’t make the point any less valid. I reminded her that a very real man had that thought and wrote it down, in the same way that a Jane Goodall or Gloria Steinham did. Tolkien just did it under the guise of fiction. Fiction I might add that has graced the bookshelves and movie screens of generations for over 60 years and sold over 150 million copies in print and grossed $871,530,324 worldwide at the box office. * Fiction that makes wise thoughts and lessons about the human condition accessible to the masses.
Paraphrasing Chesterton, Neil Gaiman said “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
The Brown Coats showed us that it is important to stand together and fight; and even if you don’t win the battle – you don’t have to give in and live life like those who oppress you have won the war.
Malcolm shows us that there is strength in protecting those who are important to you. Compassion doesn’t mean weakness or softness of character.
Zoe shows us that women can stand alongside men as equals, without apology for who they are or explanation for their belief that they have every right to do so.
Inara teaches us that there is beauty and power in owning your choices, values and sexuality.
Kaylee reminds us that there is beauty in the world around us no matter where or when we are and that attitude does not have to be dictated by circumstance.
Wash is particularly important in showing our young girls that men can love and respect a strong woman and find her attractive without trying to control or dominate her. **
Simon is a constant reminder that family is of the utmost importance and that we should travel to the ends of the ‘Verse to make sure that family, in all its forms, know that we love them and will protect them from harm.
And River is instrumental in showing us that no matter how broken we are, we can kill people with our minds we can still make connections the best way we know how, be a valued member of a community of people. And through the broken pieces of our lives and minds, stand up and kick arse when pushed too far.
And Jane. Jane reminds us that no matter what happens, assholes can be tolerated and useful in life as long as you remember to be cautious about their motivations and loyalties.
So read your children fairy tales. Immerse your teenagers in dragons and wizards and space cowboys. The most important lessons are waiting for them dressed in robes or carrying rings or flying a spaceship.
*According to Wikipedia. Please don’t tell my Uni lecturers that I quoted a Wiki as a credible source. I’m not sure if they can issue a failing grade for this blog post, but I don’t want to risk it.
**Also, Joss, you know that I love you, your work and your feminism to pieces but I’m waiting for my written apology for killing Wash. I still haven’t come to terms with his death and I’m not sure I ever will. Go stand in a corner and think about what you have done.