So, Aaron and I took the kids to see the Lego Movie the other day. It was a cute film, full of giggles, snickers, and inside jokes for anyone who has ever played with Legos. But my favorite moment had to be when Princess Unikitty, the precious pink regent of Cloud Cuckoo Land, snapped during the climactic battle scene and started going nuts on the bad guys, screaming “YOU SHOULD BE MORE FRIENDLY!!!”
I think I’ve found my cinematic doppelgänger.
I’ll just come out and admit it: I can relate to Unikitty. One of the great ironies of my life is that while many people relate a passion for gender equality with contempt for traditional femininity (because apparently a fondness for doilies equals a high oppression threshold?), I have always been a girly girl; one of those kids who cried when my mom made me wear jeans instead of dresses, who wished on stars for a canopy bed and wanted mint green carousel horses stenciled along the top of her bedroom wall, and who dressed up in princess and mermaid costumes (created on her own sewing machine, no less) for Halloween well into her teens. Don’t judge. I have no problem admitting that pink is my favorite color, and no, I would NOT rather hang out with “the guys” than have a tea party with The Church Ladies. I like tea parties, and in my opinion, nothing goes quite as well with conversations about theology and gender politics as raspberry white chocolate scones. Deal with it.
Like Unikitty, I also happen to think that people should be nice to each other, and that the the scourge of “meanness” is best addressed by something resembling the Care Bear Stare, in which the Unfriendlies are overwhelmed and totally transformed by positivity and the power of love. It’s why some people used to call me “Pollyanna.” They were teasing, but I was okay with that, because let’s face it, it kinda fits. And also, she had awesome hair. Pollyanna braids were second only to Heidi braids in my little girl heart, and since Heidi braids are a pain to do, I wore Pollyanna braids All. The. Time. True story.
Anyway. There is something to be said for unbridled (snicker) optimism and passionate idealism. There’s no doubt that righteous anger can motivate people to action, but if we live there too long, it can poison us, turn us into hardened cynics more bent on destroying our “enemy” than bringing about shalom. We become bitter, and all our good works, everything that comes out of our mouths, begins to taste like ash.
Me? I want to advocate out of starry-eyed hope and gushy love. I want to nurture an aggressive, womb-deep compassion that remembers that every adversary is someone’s precious baby, that seeks out the imago dei goodness in every cranky Mrs. Snow and power-mongering Aunt Polly. Let me be really clear: I am not talking about denial, about closing our eyes and ears to evil and refusing to confront injustice. I’m talking about the ways the Holy Spirit empowers us to love when we are rooted in the steadfast confidence that God is good, that good will win, and not only will justice prevail, but mercy will triumph even over that.
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” II Corinthians 3:12
Hardened warriors may look and sound impressive, but it’s not anger that will change the world, friends. It’s faith, hope, and love. So here’s to the Unikittys and Pollyannas of the world, to the unapologetic idealists who aren’t afraid to charge into the fray braying “You should be more friendly!” Kindness is not weakness, and hope, when placed in Christ, does not disappoint. People may scoff, but there’s a place for all you fiercely gentle beauties. This brutal, beautiful world needs you more than ever.
“Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” J.M. Barrie