Hi, sorry I’ve neglected you guys. I was not feeling good this week and I had a lot of homework to catch up on. Thankfully my books arrived!
I’ve had the time, however, to get hooked on a new show, it’s called RWBY. I don’t often say this about anime anything, but I recommend it a lot, though it is not finished yet, and if you watch, be prepared to wait a few years for the conclusion because each season takes about a year to come out.
But two seasons was enough to sell me on it, season 3 ripped my heart out, and seasons 4 and 5 continued to blow my mind. Season 6 comes out next month.
A little summary before I get to my real point: RWBY is basically a superhero team set in a fantasy world with heavy spiritual undertones. Or even overtones sometimes. It features a host of likable, deep, smart, and none cliche heroes who you actually want to imitate though you wouldn’t want to be them per sec because they have problems. Not petty issues, but actual life challenges. I’m pretty sure this show is aimed at older teens. The show features villains who you will utterly despise even though their motivations are explained to you, which is a plus in my book since I never liked sympathizing with evil characters. They are not two dimensional, but the show makes it very clear they are evil and you do not want to be like them.
But that’s enough about the show. What I really want to talk about is the contrast between the show’s view of human nature, and the one I’m getting in my Critical Thinking Class. I don’t know who picked my curriculum, but it’s been the most depressing stuff I’ve read in a long time. and I just read Fahrenheit 451. Each short story or novella has featured the theme of human nature, I guess it’s the point we’re focusing on for these weeks.
According to these authors, human beings are cruel, unfeeling, ungrateful, willing to abandon loved ones as soon as they become an inconvenience, and on the brink of insanity constantly.
I know some cynical person might look at that list and say “That sounds about right.” Yeah, that person might not like what I’m going to say.
THIS IS WRONG! WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
I won’t name all my sources here because I think you’re better off not reading them, but the highlights are a story about a man turning into a cockroach and becoming a monster to his family; a woman killing her boyfriend and committing necrophilia; a man with a mentally disturbed employee who starves himself to death after becoming a nuisance to everyone around him; and a man who removes his wife’s one blemish because he can’t bear imperfection and kills her by doing so.
Now if all those sound like something you’d never want to read, be glad you aren’t required to for the course. I actually enjoyed a chapter about straight logic more than I enjoyed any of those.
I do come up with dramatic things when I write my fiction, but I stick mainly to what I’ve seen on TV, or what I observes in the spiritual way of things. You could argue the case for all the above stories having spiritual connotations, but they aren’t ones worth being talked about.
The Bible says of the corrupt that it is shameful to even speak of the things which they do in secret. I don’t think it means that you never expose wickedness. But you should be really careful what you talk about just for the sake of conversation or discussion. No one should bring up the darkest parts of humanity for table talk.
By contrast, RWBY, unlike all the stories I read, has the bad and good sides of people both. It’s most notable example is Pyrrha Nikos, who is hands down one of the best characters I ever saw on a show. Pyrrha demonstrates something that I have seen in stories I’ve read by C. S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, and Francis Burnette (A little Princess and The Secret Garden.) Stories like Heidi, The Enchanted April, The Bronze Bow, Anne of Green Gables, or even comics like Mr. Miracle and Spiderman, all contain exceptional people. People who, as George MacDonald would say, demonstrate “the common good uncommonly developed.” It’s my rule of thumb that if you find no true love in a story, then you find no truth. You’ll never separate those two things with any degree of honesty. You have to search for that one character or theme that demonstrates love, pure love.
Pure Love is an ideal for human beings. While it is possible for us to have it, it takes much growth and much sacrifice on our part. It is true that few of us are willing to undergo that kind of suffering. I could describe Pure Love as a concept, but I prefer using characters. Characters work better than real people in this case because unless you’re fortunate enough to know someone like them, most of us haven’t met anyone who exudes that kind of love all the time. A character is someone all of us could potentially see and hopefully understand.
Pyrrha Nikos struck me because I could never catch her doing anything selfish, no matter what scene she was in. All she ever seems to want is to connect with people and help them. I have seen a few characters like that, but they got ruined in the end by irresponsible writing. Surely I am not the only one tired of show writers growing cynical about their own characters and dooming them by violating the characters own convictions for the sake of the plot…ick.
The point is Pyrrha and the others stand up for what is right and don’t want to just stand by and let bad things happen. And I believe there are people like that in the world.
You probably won’t find them on TV all that much because unfortunately, the reason these stories are on my curriculum is because as a culture we have turned to the dark and the depressing, the antihero and the straight up bad guy. Our world is sick. But, that does not mean we do not have the healers in it. I don’t know anyone who always radiates love except Jesus, but I do know I want to be that person. I have a long way to go. But because I believe God transforms us, I believe I can get there.
The short stories made me feel like garbage, selfish scum of the earth, and that was not based in any reality or likelihood that I would do what the people in the stories did. I can honestly say I wouldn’t. But these stories don’t make me sit back and ponder my life choices as much as they make me think “people suck, at least the ones who wrote this trash did.”
RWBY shocked me with it’s real look at what it’s like to be in a war against evil, but that shock made me remember values I’ve been forgetting for some time now. And it made me want to live up to them again. A part of me was beginning to think having pure love was impossible, but I was reminded that I sure as heck should keep trying anyway.
It’s a pretty pass when an internet show has a better grasp of reality than literature in a Critical Thinking Class, but one cannot disregard humble messengers. Oddly enough, people who expect to be taken seriously the least can often put out the most worthwhile material, because who do they have to impress?
I guess my closing thought is, surround yourself not with what seems the most hard look at life, but with the one that strengthens your values and makes you want to be a better person. That’s the stuff worth engaging in.
Until next time–Natasha.