Inspired by Books

The three pieces below were inspired by three books:The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, An Abundance of Katherines and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (All source material–titles and themes–are taken from the books listed above. No copyright infringement is intended.)Scan 9Scan 10

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Have you ever had a chance to look at human DNA? I have.

When I was in college, we did a biology lab where we extracted our own DNA from a swab taken from our mouths. It was a remarkably simple process. Take the swab, add some chemicals, shake the concoction up, and there you have it.

The result was this minuscule, white wispy strand that looked a lot like lint. The professor even gave us a little vial that could be attached to a necklace, a pendant of what literally makes us what we are.

I remember thinking, “This is it. This small wisp of genetic material is what we can be boiled down to.” All the time we spend trying to improve our lifestyles, look beautiful, and stay young seemed futile. I was holding the biological essence of who I am in the palm of my hand.

I found the thought rather depressing.

However, as I think back and consider my life since that day, I have realized that we are not just the sum total of our physiological parts. Yes, who we are as physical beings is what it is because of our DNA. Yes, much of our personality and appearance is the direct result of our genetic material.

But the thing that makes us human–that gives us a soul–are the choices in our lives and in the lives of those around us. I have inherited certain qualities from my parents, but the most important thing I have gained from my them is an understanding of love, what it means to be a good person, and how to live a life of meaning. I look at the world through contact lenses and glasses but the way I see the world is based on the perceptions, conclusions I have arrived at, and the attitude I have adopted.

I am a human woman because of my genetic make up. But I am human being with a soul because of the things I have chosen and the choices of others that have influenced my life.

So even though a little strand of DNA created countless years ago is important, it is just the first piece in an enormously complex puzzle that we call life. 

Why Marvel Movies Are Not for Kids

I love the Marvel Universe both the comic books and the movies.  They are full of stories about super human beings and people with highly developed skill sets dealing with basic human struggles and questions.

What I do not agree with is seeing children under the age of twelve or thirteen in the theater watching Marvel films.

It is great for kids to have favorite superheroes and characters to look up to.  They are an integral part of childhood because when you are young, your ability to suspend reality and just use your imagination is so much easier then when you are an adult.

But because of that ability to imagine, I believe we need to be protective of what children are exposed to at a young age.  Marvel films are violent, graphic, and generally contain what the movie rating system refers to as “mature content” giving them PG-13 ratings.

Take Thor (the first movie). While it is a super hero movie, because of the directing style and story line, it plays out more like a Shakespearean drama. There is a proud son, an epic rivalry between brothers, and an exciting confrontation in the final act.

In contrast, the Iron Man movies have violence as a central theme. Tony Stark starts out as business man who sells weapons of mass destruction. The Iron Man suit contains an array of weapons, missiles, and guns. There are dramatic and thematic moments but many of those are also centered around violence.

I believe there is enough violence, mishap, and evil in the real world.  It comes in different forms for children than for adults but they still exist.  There is no reason to also expose children to such things within the world of their imagination.

I know someone will say, “Even if they don’t see violence and such in films, they’ll be exposed to it by kids at school and through other means.”  There is truth in that statement.  But just because we cannot protect children from all kinds of exposure does not mean we should not try to shield them from some of these forms.

One day, your child will be old enough to watch Marvel films (and others like it) and draw from it life lessons and an entertaining experience and also be able to distinguish the real from the imaginary.  You will take them to the theater, hopefully have a good discussion with them afterward, and create great memories.

For now, do what you can to preserve the innocence that makes children so precious.