Why Learn Old Tales?
Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and embracing the adventure life has given you. This week we explore why one could benefit from watching Disney Classics.
I’ve come to appreciate the brilliance of one in particular from a series of lectures by Professor Jordan B Peterson - Pinocchio. I invite you to hear his lessons, if you want to mine-out even more insight. I didn’t realize all the architypes hidden in this story and how it encompasses elements of a variety of timeless stories; from the puppet that can be maneuvered without strings to the frail cricket representing the consciousness so easily crushed by novelty and hasty desires.
It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by history. Above all, my appreciation for mythology has increased significantly in recent years. Stories that have survived thousands of years are worth taking note, no matter how the stories may be represented. In fact, all the best stories, the ones that really grab us and hold us - are at their core: timeless. It is said the only true American Myth is Star Wars; it’s filled with ancient stories. George Lucas actually consulted with Joseph Campbell, the foremost expert on mythology, to create and write Star Wars. It is those underlying timeless stories that connect deeply with our oldest DNA and are the paths to best deal with the challenges we face today. Stories that helped mankind make sense of the world. Stories that have evolved for modern audiences, using new creative means, such as animation, but with deeper meaning than we can imagine.
These stories (tales) are not child’s play, even though some may have androids or animals for characters.
At this writing, just yesterday, I learned the deeper meaning of the Greek Play Originally performed in 458 BC: Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy. This play goes back 2500 years yet is as relevant in its teachings today as it was then.
In the play, King Agamemnon is murdered by his wife because he gave a blood sacrifice of their daughter. That blood sacrifice came with a blood debt ultimately paid by him when his wife killed him. But the Gods demanded that Agamemnon’s son avenge his Father’s murder by him killing his Mother - to pay again a blood debt. So after doing what he was told by the Gods, the son was now a Mother killer and was tormented by the Furies: Goddesses of Vengeance. And this is when the Patron God of Athens comes to the rescue: Athena puts a stop to this vicious cycle of paying blood debts by bringing the offenses before the courts. The Greeks are credited with helping create the civilization and democracy we live today. What’s interesting is that the Greeks discovered that the only path to civility, required the necessity of the Courts, not revenge, to settle our grievances. Thus, the Furies were buried beneath the systems put in place to make civilization possible.
It’s fascinating to see how throughout history, when the systems built to achieve civility are torn down, the Furies are unleashed.
I discovered many years ago that history repeats itself because behavior repeats itself. We all know the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. While technology and circumstances are ever changing - while the tools of war have certainly changed, the behavior that leads to war hasn’t changed in a millennia. Learning history is so very important since it is a guide to what has worked and what has not. To deny our human history, to not learn what it has to teach us, is to invite similar outcomes from the past to visit us today - both personally and collectively.
Is not the primary role of the parent to pass down to their children the wisdom and understandings that have empowered them to survive and thrive in the world?!
Edmund Burke once said,
“Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."
It is not so uncommon to think our stories are new, but these human paths have been taken time and time again throughout history. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the Sun.
Our history and the lessons we have learned are carried to new generations via story. Not just recent history, but ancient history.
So much truth is available to us from the ancient stories; found embedded today in what many think are new stories. These old tales were created and told by our long ago ancestors, as a guide for future generations; to help us best contend with our lives and our human nature in the present. They were important enough to be preserved and I believe we have a responsibility to know them; learn what they are teaching us about us and to pass that wisdom on to our children and grandchildren. Without these valuable lessons, we will be destined to repeat the human sufferings that made the lessons a necessity in the first place.
Tonight, we watch Pinocchio. I will be especially quiet during the movie, as the story will do a far greater job than I can to share a message deeper than our human consciousness can comprehend. And then after the movie try to help my children to notice how relevant the story is to their life; hopefully open a window of deeper understanding they may not have considered. Thirty drawing per second were created to make that movie possible and every bit of it was intentional;
Pinocchio is a Masterpiece.
If you choose to revisit any of the classic stories, be sure to ask “why” about certain scenes and no doubt answers will be revealed to you.
Learn from the ancients, lead through their example, and know that one day you will be one of them.
Make it a great week!
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