The Quest for What We Lack

For some strange reason, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” kept coming intotinmanwizoz5.jpg my head this morning, saying, “If I only had a heart…”    And I of course assumed my subconscious was referring to the large “Orange One” on stage with all his daily ranting and conspiratorial lunacy. Yes, if HE only had a heart instead of that huge black hole swirling in his voluminous body.

But, he doesn’t.

So then my mind continued the “Wiz of OZ” analogy with the Cowardly Lion, who must be Congress, right?  If Congress only had the courage to stand up for our democracy’s constitution.  Yes, if only.

wizoz70thannOkay by now I’m paying attention and trying to determine who the other main players are in this mind-game parody.  Who is left: the Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, the Wiz himself, besides the witches good and bad, and Auntie Em.   Cheering Munchkins and Flying Monkeys must be all the rest of us, I assume, maybe representing our good and bad angels.

To me the main message of “The Wizard of Oz” depicts the search for self-awareness—where all characters set out to find the qualities that they think they lack in themselveslike the quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization.  And if we were to carry this into our present situation, I’d have to say that I think the large “Orange One” is too self-consumed to ever be self-aware, so I’ll make the analogous connections for him.

Back to matching characters to our current situation, I think Toto—the little dog—is Dorothy’s subconscious trying to guide her back to safety and sanity.

The Scarecrow was looking for a brain, right?  Or did he just represent innocence and ignorance? Who could that be, eh?  I know who I think it represents but I hate to say it here, so you’ll just have to guess.sepiadorothy6.png

But who is Dorothy?  Dorothy who searches to find who she really is and to make her way back “HOME” –who does Dorothy represent?  I think Dorothy represents the American ideal of who we are as a people trying to find our way back to being compassionate human beings who believed in fairness, equality, and the right to self-determination.

Then what does the Wizard lack and who does he represent?  Hmmm.  Well, in the show he’s a con-man.  He’s a fraud.  He pretends to know all the answers.  He tricks people.  He wizbehindcurtain67.jpgruns a phony operation to gain respect and demand adulation, but he is basically insecure and impotent.  Hmmmm. Who could that be??????

Perhaps the Prez can play two parts in this mind-parody: Tin Man and Oz Wiz.

So that leaves the good and bad witches and Auntie Em left to assess.

The witch dichotomy is dependent on your political affiliation, so I’ll leave that for personal consideration, but Auntie Em, … the maternal figure who is Dorothy’s stand-in auntieemsymbol45mother during these harsh-life conditions—who represents the safety and security of a stable, can’t–be-blown-away-by-a-tornado HOME.

She could be the symbol of Lady Liberty—the American ideological standard bearer, don’t you think?  Auntie Em as Lady Liberty.  “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  Yes, I can see that.

So, let’s bring it home here ourselves:  What is it that we the citizens of this once great country lack here, that we keep searching for in all the wrong places, …with all the wrong characters?

That’s a really good question.

characterscartoonwizozWhat do we feel that we aren’twhat do we feel that we lack—that we are trying so hard to make up for by being so gullible and naïve to believe a guy who stands behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make as much chaos as possible for us in our world?

Maybe as a nation of people searching for true, wise leadership, we feel that we lack genuine moral character ourselves and keep trying to find it in others who only play facsimiles of those roles on television.

[Moral character: The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” ]

Yes, I think we fear that as individuals we do lack moral character and instead we look for quality leadership in others to help us make it through more challenging times, rather than believing in ourselves to rise above whatever difficulties we might face.

The main problem for many of us in today’s world is that we have no idea where the attributes of moral character and quality leadership can be found, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t behind that curtain with the Wiz. youhadthepowerallalong6.png

Let’s look in the mirror instead, because I think the entire point of “The Wizard of Oz” show was to say that’s where genuine moral character and self-determination were to be found all along.

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4 thoughts on “The Quest for What We Lack

  1. This story is infinitely relatable. The quest. The characters. I like how you apply it to the American socio-political climate here.

    I think you are so right that we must believe more in ourselves as leaders. This is something I def struggle with, and I think is why I love movies/stories like The Wizard of Oz so much. They are mirrors that remind me I have the power to do what is right. And what is right is rarely easy.

    Really great think piece you have written here!

    • Thank you so much. As usual, you are far too kind. I hope things are going great for you in your world! Hey, you are the film guy–what are a few more modern-day movies with that similar theme? I can think of a few….. You could do a master’s thesis on this very subject–following the theme through how it was treated and resolved in each movie.

      • Well, speaking of Wizards, I think Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban demonstrates this same motif of a hero realizing his/her capacity for responsibility and leadership to do what is right.

        The main story ends in tragedy. An innocent creature is slain, and an innocent man is wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to a horrific death. Harry himself faces his worst fear, the Dementors, and fails to defend himself and would have died at their hands by the lake. However, something magical happens here.

        Harry is saved by who he thinks is his father. But that is impossible because his father is dead. It Turns out that his savior was in fact himself (in an alternate timeline). His magical helper, Dumbledore, bestowed upon Harry the power to reset the day – to correct the ills of fate that had occurred.

        The scene where Hermione tells Harry nobody is coming to save him, and he realizes he alone must do it, gives me chills every time. He conjures a Stag Patronus, which he had been practicing the whole school year and saves himself and an innocent man from dying.

        Harry had the luxury of a second chance, which we as non-wizards do not have. He also had the benefit of SEEING himself conjure the patronus ahead of time, so he knew he was capable of it.

        If we can visualize our own success, we realize the power we are capable of.

  2. Yes, that’s a really good example of a quest for first realizing, then maximizing our own powers and self-determination. I thought about the Hobbit series also–Lord of the Rings where Bilbo has to grow into the being that he truly is through tests of courage and determination–to never quit–selflessness for the greater good, etc. There are many positives from very popular movies. You could even consider the Star Wars saga–early blossoming of Luke Skywalker or the more recent female version of Rey. Then were you doing a comparative study of them–3 or 4 movies side by side, how the main protagonist first considered him or herself as insignificant, then was tested by difficult life situations, ran the grueling gauntlet to come out the other end with knocks and bruises, but with newly won survival skills and living smarts–how each one’s personal philosophy of life was forged from the intensity of the fire and the constant hammering. Seriously, this could be thesis on self-determination and self-realization through film depictions then maybe pull in a real-life documented story to see how true to life these film depictions are (art imitating life). Lots of possibilities here. Good luck!

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