You know what? I was watching a Disney made-for-TV movie the other night, Buffalo Dreams. Maybe you saw it. As you know, Disney makes made-for-TV movies from time to time and usually includes some type of moral or moralistic theme.
Inevitably, in all of the Disney movies, it’s pretty clear as to who’s good and who’s bad. It’s pretty clear as to the right values and the wrong values. It’s pretty clear as to the individuals who are truly trying to cope with the right way to handle life and those who just simply take life for granted, or worse, stomp on life.
Buffalo Dreams is really no exception. It’s a movie about a boy who has a coming-of-age experience in the Navajo region of New Mexico (actually filmed in Utah) where coming to terms with our natural roots as a part of the earth becomes part of the process.
At the same time, it’s also very clear that there is a counterpart, the antichrist — a Caucasian blue-eyed, blond-haired young narcissist who would just as soon stomp on the earth rather than revere or respect it. It’s really not all that difficult to figure out the difference between the two and, of course, notwithstanding, you find yourself getting sucked into the moral war between good and bad in the sequence.
At the end of the day, of course, as with every Disney movie, and certainly every Disney movie I’ve ever seen, good ultimately wins over bad. Everyone goes away happy. Everyone goes away validated. And the right values ultimately prevail.
As I took a look at that, I was trying to understand the two components that the process offered. Obviously, for the kids, it’s pretty apparent that you have to make the values immensely clear in order for them to understand what’s right and what’s wrong. The more ambiguous are those values, the more complicated the antagonist, or the more compromised is the battle — the more confused will our kids ultimately become as to what is the right answer.
At the same time, for those of us who are adults and recognize that issues are not always quite so black and white, I wonder what it is we could potentially learn from those types of moral plays.
So, with that in mind, it suddenly dawned on me. Maybe adults simply make it too complex. Maybe, adults, at the end of the day, try to compromise with forgiveness what is most of the time pretty black and white that we just don’t always accept.
I know in countless situations I have been apologetic about an individual or a circumstance which, a year later, 2 years later, or even 5 years later, turns out to be exactly what I could have suspected way back when. In many of those instances, while I painfully distinguished between the various nuances of the issues, Janet, my wife, was very clear as to what was right and what was wrong. I had huge ambiguity on my side, but Janet had no ambiguity on hers. She knew what the right answer was with immense clarity from the get-go.
As I continued to watch the rest and ultimately the end of Buffalo Dreams, I recognized that maybe we just simply make it too complex. Maybe what’s right and what’s wrong is really that simple. Sure, we can debate it; because, after all, we’re adults. But we always knew what was right and we always ultimately knew the way it was eventually going to turn out anyway.
Original writing date: May 2005