Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get those bad guys!

We have a strict no-TV policy and discourage our kids from violent and gun-based games. But, boys will be boys and my five year-old has picked up some war-game ideas from his peers. Today, he built a Lego town and crowned himself its defender against the waves of  attacks from numerous imaginary armies. When he proudly updated me on his Vuvuzela-cannon victories, I masked my frustration.

Then he threw me a ray of light, the type that sometimes reassures parents that some of the values they try instill in their kids actually get through. He flashed his impish grin and explained that he had a secret weapon that would guarantee him victory in every battle. His special weapon doesn't kill  the "baddies", it transforms them into "goodies". Who needs to fight a battle when you can just zap your enemy into becoming your friend? Ingenious!

His make-believe "transformer" gun carries a great message. We were put on this Earth to make a difference, to turn the unruly jungle we live in into a tranquil garden. To do that, we need to weed out the negative and plant lots of positive. 

There are two ways to achieve this goal. One is to overwhelm our world with powerful spirituality that forces the negative into hiding. When G-d blasted His message from Mt. Sinai, he blinded evil with His brilliant light and the world became a better place. Unfortunately, when you strong-arm evil out of the way, it goes underground and regroups. Before we even left the foot of Sinai, evil was back with a vengeance and we fell for the Golden Calf. You can win the battle by being stronger than your enemy, but you will fight many more battles along the way.

The second approach is to win your enemies over. When your enemy becomes your friend, you no longer need brute strength to keep safe. Judaism's goal is not to pulverize the body or starve the physical world so that we can grow our spirituality. Our aim is to transform every part of life into an ally for G-d's mission. Our objective is to turn those "baddies" into "goodies". 

My son had another trick up his sleeve: He whispered into my ear that he was actually a  superhero (I held my breath, waiting for the Spiderman routine). "Yes," he proudly explained, "I am Moshiach, and when the bad guys see me they are more scared of me than of anyone else!" 

Yep, I got some nachas today- and a good lesson that Moshiach is all about transforming the world, not beating it into shape.

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