“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Turn on TV these days and you can see a variety of fairy tales being mangled by special effects, simmering adult romance and almost every form of bastardization of the moralistic aspects of fairy tales imaginable.
What a shame.
This may sound a little silly, particularly with some of the wacky things happening in the world today, but I think people <adults in particular> need fairy tales more than ever … the original ones and not the bastardized Hollywood versions. I think now, maybe more than in a long time, we need to be reminded we can actually beat dragons.
I don’t want people to live some fairy tale Life.
I do want people to believe in the underlying messages of fairy tales themselves.
99% of us know these fairy tales.
The truth is that almost every adult knows these fairy tales … which should creates a common understanding of what we need most… that we have an inner strength and a belief if we do our best and what is right we can overcome the worst monsters imaginable.
But this only works if we adults actually believe a fairy tale offers something useful to us in our adult Life.
Here is a truth.
Fairy tales, when at their best, simplify the most complex dilemmas <which seem to keep many of us awake at night as adults> into a less complex, mostly resolved environment, in which danger is met … and while the moment carries a burden of huge significance to the main character … reaches a resolution.
I could argue that it is adults who most to need fairy tales and we could actually use them to start believing in some important shit we need to believe in order to deal with reality.
Some analysis somewhere online suggested that the power of a fairy tale to an adult is that the fairy tale has its roots in a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping” combined with specific harsh challenges and specific ways out or through the challenge.
I could argue that fairy tales showcase that the fate of our destiny resides within our own heads, hearts & hard work … not anyone else nor even at the hands of any monster standing in our way.
I could argue that fairy tales remind us that the world is unpredictably hostile to us and often quite destructive to our desires, if not to our survival, and, yet, it is also unpredictably full of resources if we are smart enough to look around enough … and hard enough.
I could argue we need more people to believe in fairy tales and certainly a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping”. It doesn’t mean they are nuts or out of touch with reality … I mean, what the hell, people need to find hope & answers however they can.
Some people will find hope in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone have any say in where a person may look for that hope?
Some people will find answers in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone care where a person may look for answers to Life?
All people want to be happy. Different people just get there in different ways.
All people want to figure out roadblocks to our happiness. Different people just get there in different ways.
Who’s to say the ones who read fairy tales aren’t the smart ones these days.
All my own thoughts aside.
Let me share Psychology Today’s point of view <so you can see what an expert may suggest>:
Yet it seems very important to me, perhaps even more important today, that these ancient stories should be repeated again and again. The violence within them is always contained within a satisfying structure with a reversal, and the requisite happy ending.
Here good and evil are so conveniently and completely separate. There are no grey areas in the fairy tale. The appearance of the villain allows the child to freely project his own violent feelings onto these separate and satisfyingly wicked beings. Unable to express anger or hatred directly toward those adults on whom the child depends, he/she can displace this natural aggression and give free reign to it personified by the villain: the step-mother, the wicked wolf or the witch.
At the same time, having split good and evil so completely and satisfyingly the child can identify with the good hero or heroine.
He/she can beat his way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue sleeping beauty or magically acquire the carriage, grand dress and glass slippers to enchant the prince. The child can identify with the small, the weak or the downtrodden (little Cinderella, sweeping the hearth, for example) who, in a gratifying reversal, is able to overcome the odds and triumph, marrying the prince.
These tales thus permit both the expression of natural violence and at the same time preserve that essential part of life without which the child cannot prosper: hope.
And maybe that is where a fairy tale is most powerful for an adult who deigns to reads a fairy tale … there are no grey areas in the fairy tale.
Maybe someone who reads fairy tales somehow feels safer and more capable to face the unpredictable world because it clears the mind from the ambiguities, which many seem man-made, and permits us to see the truth — most challenges can be beaten.
Maybe fairy tales help someone beat their way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue their dream or magically acquire what they need to enchant Destiny <and their fate>.
I can honestly say that I hope the rest of the world doesn’t try to beat the fairy tale reading out of the people willing to reread them and talk about them … because it would be a shame.
It’s a hard time for anyone who believes in fairy tales these days. And it doesn’t help that reality suggests some fairy tale crap of its own.
Oddly enough … we seem to think endlessly of an end goal or an outcome as success in Life <which is a fairy tale> … and a dream or fairy tale as some unrealistic ‘thing’ consisting of rainbows, unicorns and unrealistic endings <yet the tale itself offers us a lesson for reality>.
And reality may actually be more like the fairy tale story where unpredictable challenges are beaten by finding unpredictable resources within ourselves without any moral ambiguity.
How backwards is that?
We should all read more fairy tales.
They will remind us that we can do more than we believe and overcome more than we sometimes believe … and that fairy tale endings aren’t fantastical and not indicative of reality but rather just happy.
Not fantastical because, partially, you are reminded you can resolve the unpredictable challenge and get past it.
Not fantastical because, partially, they remind us we can beat dragons.
Sure does seem like we could partially find both of those learnings quite useful these days. But. That’s me.
“The unicorn is a lonely, solitary creature that symbolizes hope.”