On Ney Year’s Eve I went to London with my family to see the musical Matilda. Many of you may have read the book or seen the 90s movie. I have not personally read the book, but have decided to do it, as watching the musical version inspired seven life lessons I’d like to share today.
1) Just because we seem to be in a particular story, it doesn’t mean we have to stay in it. This is especially true if we feel that the story is “not right.” Young Matilda is very clear on the fact that she’s living in very challenging circumstances; her victimisers are big and powerful, whilst she’s little –not that something like being little is going to stop her from trying to escape the abuses imposed on her by the adults. Deep down Matilda knows she’s worthy of love and happiness, and although she’s not quite sure how she’s going to make it, she doesn’t allow the cruel words said to her dent her self-confidence.
2) Just because we have been hit and broken it doesn’t mean we cannot get mend and be whole again. This scene was absent in the movie. After Matilda’s friend, Bruce, eats the chocolate cake, he was send to the “chokie”, a punishment cupboard of sorts, and he loses his spark and the fight in him, turning into a zombie-like creature. But he eventually recovers his courage, his voice and sings to the top of his lungs a song of emotional freedom.
3) When the outer world is in chaos and our thoughts are wild, causing further turmoil, we can always find a place of peace and quiet within our soul. In a very hectic scene, the head mistress is threatening the children and their teacher with literal obliteration. Matilda is tormented by the violence around her and the thoughts in her head that do not seem to be making sense, bringing to the plate her personal problems with her parents. And then she sings a beautiful song called “Quiet”, expressing that silence that is not a silence, which makes her feel like she is softly sailing “throu
gh the eye of the storm.”
4) Unfairness most be faced and fought, even if we are weaklings of the story. During the play, Matilda continuously defends herself and her friends (even her teacher, Miss Honey, who is too weak to defend herself due to the child abuse she endured) against injustice. As she wisely put it, to accept an unjust act and do nothing about it, is to become an accomplice and endorse such unfairness.
5) Sometimes we have to be a little bit naughty to make things right. Matilda does not only voices her opposition to the cruelty of the adults, but she punish them in subtle (and not so subtle) way, making sure that they can’t trace the actions back to her. This reduces the abusers’ powers, if not always literally, certainly in Matilda’s eyes. Sometimes, rules have to be broken to create a better world.
6) Only compassion and forgiveness can give us true freedom. I’m not sure is this scene is in the book –it certainly wasn’t in the movie. Matilda’s dad has tricked the Russian mafia and now they have come to break his bones –literally. In spite of it all, Matilda convinces the mafia Don to spare her dad. Impressed by this, Mr. Wormwood accepts to let Matilda stay with Miss Honey and star the loving life she has always dream of and deserves.
7) The biggest responsibility we as adults have, wherever we are related to them or not, is to care for, protect, educate and love children. An emotionally or physically abused child is a link in a long chain of suffering, violence, hare, anger, pain and tragedy that transcends generations and the family circle. It takes a very brave child to brake it, and to do so, she or he needs all the help and support that we can give. And the best solution to stop child abuse, is not to start it. So let’s remember, every time we deal with a child, that our actions, words and attitudes will echo for years, change lives, for the better or the worst, and help make this a brighter or darker world.
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