As a little girl, I loved reading fairytales. The notion of a “happily ever after” finale was very intriguing. No matter the evil plot of the villain, the hero of the story emerged to an enviable and captivating end. At the time, I thought these stories were based on real life events so you can imagine my utter dismay when I discovered they were fiction. “So you mean the 3 Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood were simply imaginative stories”? I remember asking an adult this question and they were surprised at my surprise. Imagine that!!!! He explained that there were life lessons embedded in each of these stories and it was important not to miss them. That made me feel a little bit better.
If I had to pick an ancient fairy tale with a relevant theme for the year 2020, it would have to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In this tale, trouble ensues when the magic mirror tells the wicked Queen that she is no longer the fairest in the land. Enraged with jealousy and consumed by what she felt was a displacement, the Queen begins to plot the death of Snow White (who is now the fairest of the land). Despite her conniving, Snow White triumphs while the Queen perishes.
I have always wondered why the Queen’s life mission was to perpetually remain the fairest in the land. Was external beauty all she had going for her? And why would she think that taking someone else’s life would automatically make her the fairest in the land? How many lives was she willing to claim just to remain the most beautiful?
The underpinnings of this German Fairy Tale written by the Grimm Brothers in 1812 is much alive today. The actors are different this time around but the response is identical. There is a global shift of institutions that were once considered indomitable. They were the fairest in the political, social and economic sphere until suddenly, a pandemic hit, with a rippling effect spewing over to social issues.
The indominable is no longer the “fairest in the land”, Snow White has emerged with “Seven Dwarfs” to help her on her life course. Isn’t it interesting that unlike the Queen, Snow White was not preoccupied with the mirror and her beauty? She was busy living her own life and beauty found her in the process. So how should the 2020 “Queen” respond to this new reality?
Well, let’s agree that violence, counter violence, evil plotting and deceit will yield no good. What we need is for the Queen to realize that “Snow White” has always been beautiful and unstoppable. Accepting this truth will liberate the Queen and could lead to partnerships that beautify both sides. Gone should be the days of narcissism, oppression and social injustice. We should embrace the change we so desperately need by leveraging the educational tools that surround us. We will never return to the days of having only one person being proclaimed as “the fairest of them all”; no turning back, no matter how hard we try.
Those conscious and unconscious biases, those stereotypes we have upheld and perpetuated, those opportunities we stole from others, those dividends we have refused to pay; those times we kept silent when we should have been screaming!!!!!! There is a much needed ongoing shifting in every sphere, things cannot remain the same. One world, one people, we can make a difference wherever go, wherever we stay. Let no one tell you less. And if you do happen to look in a mirror, don’t ask the question “who is the fairest of them all”, instead ask “how can I make this world more beautiful”?