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O SON OF MAN! Days have already passed thee during which thou hast been occupied with the imaginations and superstitions prompted by thine egotism. How long wilt thou be asleep upon thy couch? Lift thy head from slumber, for verily the sun hath already reached mid-day; that it may shine upon thee with the lights of Beauty. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 58.
In Grimm’s Fairytales, the story of Sleeping Beauty differs dramatically from the Disneyland version we’ve all come to know. In the Grimm’s version, when the Prince is finally able to enter Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom after her 100-year sleep, it is not due to his courage or prowess — it is due to her maturity. While in a selfish adolescent state, she was protected by the thorns that were built up around her. It was only when enough time had passed that the Prince was able to enter. This wonderful metaphor for chastity and the need for the protection of youth who may lack mature judgment transforms Sleeping Beauty from a mere fairytale into a moral parable. I found this particularly interesting, in light of the Baha’i writings’ emphasis on morality and chastity among our youth.
The Baha’i teachings put great emphasis on maintaining high moral standards and on the important role of parents in protecting and guiding our children in their morality:
Thus shall these tender infants be nurtured at the breast of the knowledge of God and His love. Thus shall they grow and flourish, and be taught righteousness and the dignity of humankind, resolution and the will to strive and to endure. Thus shall they learn perseverance in all things, the will to advance, high mindedness and high resolve, chastity and purity of life. Thus shall they be enabled to carry to a successful conclusion whatsoever they undertake. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 124.
So, I learned a few new things from my nine-year-old daughter and her desire to watch a televised fairytale: I’ve learned that parables have an important role to play in teaching morality to children and their spiritual influence through the ages is powerful. I am sure that I only superficially understand these moral stories and continue to inadequately convey their lessons to our children, but my mind is opened to some of their deeper, spiritual meanings. I will look at Disney movies with a more critical spiritual lens.