Without a doubt my favorite Disney movie of all time is Beauty and the Beast. So it thrilled me when the school our kids attend, Northern Michigan Christian School, decided to perform it for its spring musical.
The performance was this past weekend and it was inspiring to watch our son Mitch as Gaston, along with many of his school mates, act and sing so masterfully. The entire cast, directors and orchestra did an incredible job. Watching it twice wasn’t enough.
Though the story isn’t perfect, as I watched it again, I remembered why Beauty and the Beast became my favorite Disney movie. It’s because it communicates two valuable lessons about the realities of life.
The first one is the most obvious, it’s the warning not to judge another person by their appearance, because what’s on the inside a person is more important than what is on the outside.
The second lesson, admittedly more clearly communicated in the stage version, is the fact that our decisions and actions always have serious ramifications for those around us. We don’t live on islands. It’s best expressed when Cogsworth, the talking clock, asks “why did we have to get involved in all this spell business? It’s not like we’re the ones who threw the old hag out of the castle.”
It’s this second lesson that’s the most uncomfortable for us to face. You see, we want our personal freedom but we don’t want to believe our choices impact those around us, because if they do, then we’d have to choose between our own desires and the welfare of others. And the fact is, we place a higher value on our freedom of choice than on the good of others. So we too often try to ignore this inconvenient connection between our actions and their impact on those around us. But it’s a truth we can’t escape.
And it’s a truth so clearly and compellingly communicated in Beauty and the Beast, and one we all desperately need to take to heart.