Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More truth from fiction

We have a holiday tradition in the making in our home.  We watch "The Hogfather" each year during the winter holidays because it melds some very Pagan ideas with more mainstream attitudes about Christmas and ties it all together with a big bow of sarcasm.  This, of course, very much reflects life in our house.   

There is one scene, though, that I hope my children eventually internalize and take with them on their life journeys.  It is a scene in which Death explains to his granddaughter, Susan, why the Hogfather (Discworld's version of Father Christmas) is important to humans.

Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape. 
Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers? 
Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies. 
Susan: So we can believe the big ones? 
Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing. 
Susan: They're not the same at all. 
Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged. 
Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what's the point? 
Death: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become? 

Storytellers have long been revealers of great truths, and in some cases, films, novels, comic books, television shows and other seemingly shallow and pointless forms of entertainment carry on this tradition of passing along morality and philosophy to us while we passively sit entertained.  "The Hogfather" is one of those silly, but underrated, films that hide in their story a great lesson for us all- whatever you believe, whatever you teach, it has the purpose of helping humanity become whatever it will be.

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