The Element of Kindness.

Happy Day-After-Christmas, peeps.

Hope you had a good one, I spent most of mine bingeing The Dragon Prince first 2 1/2 seasons. (Not a recommendation, though it’s okay.) I was with family, my siblings and I had been wanting to watch it.

I was checking my stats today, and I have one post that’s had a total of 130+ views, including my own. (Why do blogs count your own views on your post?)

It’s A Strong Mind and a Soft Heart. (Link here: https://drybonestruth.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/a-strong-mind-and-a-soft-heart/)

I never expected it to be so popular, I based the title on a song by Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-cVRxhnrY0)

It’s a bit rough, but the post is mainly about kindness and reason being blended together in our actions. The heart and the head not being separated, and how it is bad when they are.

I also said that even someone with a mental handicap might understand this better than a genius, and be wiser.

I still think that its true, in fact, I think it is more true now. Intelligence might be measured by IQ, but thank the Lord, Wisdom is not.

There is something I thought of after writing my Naruto review, it actually hit my before I finished the OG show, I talked about it with my sisters and they agreed. It’s kindness.

If you’ve seen the show, or a similar one, you’d probably agree. The characters themselves begin pointing it out after a certain season.

The Ninja world is highly cruel, and according to my mom, that’s a pretty accurate depiction of what real ninjas were like. In fact, the show’s portrayal is almost too real. One of the things that makes Naruto more than just an average Shonen anime is that it’s based on something that existed. Ninja and Samurai were both tools of the empire in Japan, used differently, and against each other. Ninjas used dark arts; secret ways;  things like that.

Of course it gets ridiculous on the show, but the disturbing element is that some of it, or most of it, isn’t all that much of an exaggeration.

It would be nice if I could say Japan was the only country that was like this (though not to Japan) but I can’t.

Every country is like this. Cruelty, if you look at human history, is not the exception but the rule of human dynasties, small societies, and everything in between.

No matter how you slice it, cruelty is nonsensical. People often speak and write of senseless cruelty, as if there was a cruelty that made sense; but if it makes sense, we’ll always find in the end, it was not cruelty.

It makes sense to use triage in a war or crisis, some people think of this as cruel, but in the end, it can save more lives than trying to treat everyone would. (Triage is a rating system that determines who gets treated first when there’s limited medical supplies and staff, which there always are, even in hospitals.)

It seems cruel to the addict to deny them their substance, but that is kinder than enabling them is.

What’s astonishing about Naruto’s version of it is how blatantly stupid the cruelty was. Yet, there are times and places where even what was shown there would be less than what was really happening in real life in history.

The cruelty shown on anime tends to be either neglect, direct abuse, emotional abuse, molesting (usually implied, not shown or said outright), mass killing, and torture for the fun of it. Also bullying is common, as well as people being ostracized for being different, sometimes in almost non-existant ways.

It’s awful how most of the time that cruelty is directed toward children.

Naruto‘s reached the point of being a sickness with the whole show, and it became a major talking point of all the villains on it, in the end the main villains all wanted to remake the world into their image of a kinder, softer place where everyone would be happy.

I’ve run into that idea countless times, from The Left Behind series to YA dystopian fiction (movies, I don’t read them.) Heck, if it’s not the big finale of whatever super hero/special abilities show or movies series you’re watching… I doubt you’re watching them(*cough Endgame *cough.)

I began to wonder what could have possessed Kishimoto to write such a dark show that aired, I may remind you, on Nickelodeon (I think, or Cartoon Network, or both.)

I always wonder that about these writers, even in more Americanized anime.

Perhaps there’s a hint to their thinking in what Torchwick from RWBY tells Ruby before he gets eaten by a monster “The real world is cold, the real world doesn’t care about spirit.”

Why are ninja so cruel? They are taught to be, because they are taught with the assumption that enemies are everywhere, that no one can be trusted, that even your closest friend may be ordered to kill you if you go against the village, and therefore, it is better to not have many friends.

This is, ostensibly, the idea Naruto himself rebels against and changes, however it does not work, because Sasuke’s crimes were not against a village’s martial law, but against the Laws of Life itself and what is Good in general.

What I hated most about this show was how little it bothered to be honest about human beings. The world was portrayed in the worst possible light, everywhere you turn there’s a massacre, a genocide, a child being abused into being a monster, a friend stabbing another in the back… but nowhere were there ordinary people just living their lives, doing small acts of kindness, camaraderie, and unselfishness. If we got perhaps a minute or two of it, the focus never lasted long enough for it to make a point.

I do not exaggerate when I say the only times the show highlighted people living ordinary, happy lives was right before a disaster so that we’d feel like it meant something, the rest of the time ordinary people were portrayed as jerks to the main characters.

It was so exhausting and unfair. I discovered that besides Wisdom, there is another element a story must be written with in order for it to work properly: Kindness.

Kindness is so basic to older literature and shows, to the point of being overly cheesy, that I took it for granted. I never thought of it as necessary writing element, and you won’t find it in a trope discussion, or writing class. I daresay, next to myself, only fiction writers of the old fashioned happy story brand will even mention it. (Check out J. R. R. Tolkien’s views on the Happy Ending sometime.)

But even if a story is not happy, it needs to have kindness in it somewhere, or it will only depress people. Romeo and Juliet is an infamous tragedy, but it’s built around the kindness of two young people who are able to look past their family’s feud and really see each other. Juliet more so. (I never like Romeo.) Without that element, the tragedy would mean absolutely nothing.

Sadness has this particular quality, it really can only exist where there has been kindness. Who really mourns the death of a tyrant or miser or witch?

I commented to my sisters in the middle of one important Naruto arc that the darkness on the show didn’t really stick with me after watching, because it was innocuous. We wonder why, eventually we concluded it was because there was just so much, and it was just so over the top, that it was impossible to believe it. There’s always the insane cases, but they are not every case, and not nearly as frequent as this show made out.

But even more so, there wasn’t enough kindness to make us regret the destruction of the characters that much. None of the places that got wiped out had good or happy people in them, usually. We never got to see the simplicity of everyday life being played out. Heck, Fairy Tail showed more in its Edolas arc with the talking cat society than this show ever did with human beings.

You may find it morbid of me to say Sadness only exists because of Kindness; but nowhere in the Bible, or in the study of human psychology, does it say that Sadness is a bad emotion. Women make themselves sad on purpose to relieve stress. Depression is bad, but depression and sadness are not the same thing. (Inside Out, anyone?)

Naruto ultimately lessened the impact of its own point about cruelty by never showing any other options in the main plot. By the end of the show no one has the faintest idea how to rebuild the world except the Sand Siblings, Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro, who have spent 3 years working on spreading kinder customs in their own village. Only they seem in the least prepared to take on the revamping of Ninja society. They begin new customs between the villages and hold them accountable to it. Once, Temari purposely reminded the Leaf that they need their allies and they can’t go back to the old ways of mistrust, turning her natural fierceness into a protective thing instead of an intimidating one.

However, the Sand gets zero credit for basically being the only reason the world didn’t end, and it all goes to Naruto, who has no clue what he needs to do. As he himself admits.

In the end the whole point falls flat. The viewer doesn’t really know how they will do it, we are just told to believe they will…even though we have no concrete proof to believe in.

I need to see you be kind if I’m to believe you can make a difference.

It was the simplest thing, a child could have pointed it out, heck, some of them did…yet it was like the show was allergic to it.

But, what scares me is not that Naruto was so bad at it, for that’s just one author, but that it;s not all the a different from at least 90% of the adult and kids shows that air on our TV networks here.

From Soap Operas, to Sitcoms, to whatever the heck the Disney channel and Cartoon Network are, there’s a theme that’s been going on since the 80s at least… no kindness.

I like sarcasm fine, but when that’s all your show is, (and stupidity,) then there’s just not much about the human beings to like.

I remember watching The Cosby Show and thinking it was way different in that way (I know what happened, but the show itself was really cute.)

I was lucky to grow up on The Chronicles of Narnia, and similar stories, which are full of wonder, quirkiness, wisdom…and kindness, it was everywhere, hiding in the corners or out in the open. Kindness that needed no explanation, no motivation, beyond that kindness was natural and right, and it was the people who lack it who are unusual.

I said cruelty is senseless, without exception, and that is because it never benefits anyone to be cruel. C. S. Lewis observes in The Screwtape Letters that some men have been twisted to enjoy cruelty, it is true. But enjoyment of the wrong thing cannot be said to be a benefit, unless you’re crazy enough to defend drugs on that account…oh yeah, pot got legalized with that as an excuse…my country is crazy…Well, oh well.

Kindness is defended even by skeptics as a necessary evolutionary instinct. That theory doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny, but if even godless men feel the need to defend kindness, it is because kindness is reasonable.

I find what’s godly is always reasonable.

That said, cruel stories are never rational. Naruto proved it to me, if I was ever in doubt, but I’ve seen many movies and shows, and a handful of books, that would confirm the theory. the worst was Ender’s Shadow, please never read that.

And that is where I am going to conclude for today, whew, I could get material out of this show for months…until next time–Natasha.

 

 

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