Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This week's news was disturbing, (as usual), and had one sort of happy ending. My Mom and I spent Easter Sunday together, driving up the coast and drinking in the glorious beauty outside. Inside, we were talking about this n that. We finally decided no more current events, because it's all bad news. One thing we discussed in particular is the issue of recent pirate attacks on the sea. In one instance, pirates were holding an American ship captain hostage for ransom. The sort of good news is that he was rescued by Navy Seals. The "sort of" is because we just ratcheted up the stakes for negotiations in regard to future attacks.

In the car I said, "Mom, why do I like Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean so much, when I really hate what pirates do?" Or something along those lines....A part of me honestly felt guilty for contributing to the glamorization of pirates.

We threw out the name Johnny Depp, laughed and steered the conversation elsewhere.

For some reason, an answer popped into my head last night, as random thoughts often do. I realize there is a lot of social commentary hidden in such a child's tale. Perhaps smarter people than I wrapped their minds around this long ago.

The character Will Turner, in Pirates of the Caribbean, is a pirate by birth. In the beginning of the film he does not even know this about himself. Elizabeth Swann knows this. She keeps a medallion she took from Will when he was plucked from the Sea and passed out on the deck of the rescuing ship. This medallion indicates that he is associated with pirates. Pirates are a lot who are guilty by association, even if that association is simply birth. Elizabeth was gracious enough to look past this, and even held a sort of fascination for pirates.

I thought about the way we move about in society. More often than not, it seems that we stick to our own kind. There are instances to be sure of people breaking free of their lot in life and exceeding expectations. Will Turner is one of those characters. He took the news of his identity and used it for good. He was thrust into a situation, and acted with integrity. Jack Sparrow, on the other hand, chose a life of piracy. Though his actions and choices are a bit more shady, he still occasionally operates in a selfless manner for the good of others.

So where did I go with all this? It's the age old story. Sometimes, we like to root for the underdog. More than that, I think on some level, we like to see people move outside of what is expected of them, because we are encouraged even if only subconsciously, that we can then do the same thing. These thoughts comforted me.
Then, I realized, on some level, we are all pirates, hijacking other people for our own needs; whether it be lashing out in anger, manipulating, lying, bragging et al...Whenever we put our selves first and make others pay for our own desires, we are acting no differently than the pirates today.

The beauty of it is that we can move outside of that and learn to live with honor. And, I can keep enjoying my Disney movies guilt free.

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