Lessons Taught, but not Learned

by Justine Bergman
Childhood Favorites: Lessons Taught, but not Lessons

Hey there, everyone. I’m doing something a little different today, so bear with me here. An article from The Wall Street Journal came to my attention yesterday, and I wanted to share both the article itself and my response to it. This is my first ever response piece, and I’m not going to lie…I’m a little terrified to release my opinions into the world.

As children we viewed stories told as pure, unadulterated entertainment. I don’t know about you, but I would come home from grade school and watch the same Disney movies over and over because I couldn’t get enough of princes and princesses in fantastical lands. As I grew older, I realized that the songs and quotes I had memorized and the magical stories I had become so familiar with had such deeper meanings than what I originally remembered. The (not so) subtle messaging for children that only parents could truly appreciate, if you will. The Little Mermaid–changing yourself to feel more comfortable in your own skin. The Lion King–finding your courage to protect those you hold dear. Aladdin–desperately aching to change your lot in life. The list goes on and on.

It makes you think: pressing societal issues we face today have been addressed decades ago…why can’t we seem to resolve problems that plague the world?

As soon as I clicked on the article titled Why Narnia Resonates More Than Ever This Summer by Dale Hrabi, it brought all of these thoughts that have been floating around in my head to the surface for further examination. The article begins with the following blurb:

A beloved classic, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ isn’t just enthralling. It’s a timely reminder that even in the darkest of seasons in America, there is relief in finding the courage to engage

In my personal opinion, this couldn’t possibly be any more true. While facing down the pain and oppression blanketing our country, the only way to ensure change is to do something about it. It won’t be easy, and it’s going to hurt–the night is darkest just before the dawn–but we have to remain hopeful and fight until the sun breaches the horizon.

Below you’ll find the first few paragraphs of Hrabi’s thought-provoking article. I urge you to give it a read and share you thoughts.

IT’S JUNE in America. But it might as well be January. Frozen in place by an endless pandemic, our moods brittle as ice, pent-up frustrations erupting into anger, we still seem metaphorically gripped by winter. We are living in a sort of Narnia, the setting of C.S. Lewis’s beloved 1950 children’s classic “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” a traumatized magical land where it is “always winter and never Christmas.”

During World War II, four English children—Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy—sequestered for their safety in an old professor’s country home, find their way into Narnia via an enchanted wardrobe. (Lucy, the first to cross over and back, initially finds her report of the land dismissed as a “hoax.”) The perpetrator of the curse that’s eternally buried Narnia under snow is, as the children learn, the White Witch. A fascist ruler who styles herself the “Queen of Narnia” and commands a brutal “secret police” which (as wolves) are literally beasts, she must kill the children to short-circuit a prophecy. They can’t, as foretold, become the rightful kings and queens of Narnia or else her illegitimate “leadership,” and with it her paralyzing winter, will end.

Spoiler alert: It does. Thanks to the Christ-like Aslan, a preternaturally powerful lion. Simultaneously “good and terrible,” Aslan inspires the children, once cowed by wickedness, to rise to the occasion in the book’s crescendo of a battle. He outwits, outmaneuvers and out-roars the Witch—resonant in this time of protest. As her spell weakens, spring finally arrives. The snow melts. Birds rediscover the urge to chirp. The “sweet smell” of the hawthorn bushes is almost overpowering. “And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness that you only get if you are being solemn and still.”

Hrabi, Dale. “Why Narnia Resonates More Than Ever This Summer” The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-narnia-resonates-more-than-ever-this-summer-11591802075

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