Lessons from Aladin

My granddaughters have been here for a day or so, and I’ve watched Disney’s Aladin 3 times in less than 24 hours. If you sit through it and try to pay attention, some interesting points begin to surface. Not just the overt “Freedom”  theme, but more quiet, interesting interactions.

Yes — Aladin is about freedom. Princess Jasmine wants to be free to be herself. She stands her ground in the face of rules that keep her trapped in the palace and mandate her marriage to a prince. She seeks the freedom to be herself. And the Genie wishes to be free. Genie declares that freedom is worth more than all of the magical powers he would ever possess as genie.This is a sort of freedom that I see as a gift in my life when I truly accept that I am loved by God: I get closer to being free to be myself in response to that love.

On the second or third time through the movie, I paid attention to Aladin and Abu’s trip into the Cave of Wonders to get the lamp. One rule: you can touch nothing but the lamp. Sounds a bit like Eden — don’t touch the that one tree! Abu, of course, fails the test, and touches the forbidden jewel. Poof! Everything falls apart. Aladin and Abu find themselves trapped (with the flying carpet and the lamp). The most interesting part of this is that despite the fact that Abu’s “sin” triggers the fall into the pit, Aladin never seems angry with him. Nowhere in the movie do I hear Aladin chastise or blame Abu for his failure. You’d think Aladin would yell at the monkey — at least in the darkest moments. But no — it doesn’t happen

Now, I ask — is this just fluff from a Disney kid movie or is there a lesson here? Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where scapegoating and assigning blame don’t seem to exist? Isn’t this, in some way, a lesson from the Gospels on justice? Aladin and Abu just work toward getting things right rather than blame and vengence. Oh, my.

I could go on about Aladin believing that he had to be someone he wasn’t to win the girl only to discover that it was his true self that was loved in the end. However, I’ll let it go with this thought: there are great lessons everywhere — even in old Disney movies that you thought were all fluff.

Who knew?