How to Turn Bad Guys into Good Guys

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Back when she was five, my daughter, who has always been oddly spiritual, composed a song called "God Loves The World"

If you listen closely you can hear my son slurping on a smoothie in the background. Here's the lyrics to her song:

God loves the world
God loves the world
God loves other people in the world 

So he can 
Turn bad guys into good guys
And bad guys wont be mean to God anymore
Cause he knows how to do that

God loves the world
God loves the world

There's some pretty sophisticated theology going on in that cute little song. But if we want to learn how to turn bad guys into good guys ourselves, we are left with the question of how can we do that? The only answer her song provides is that God somehow mysteriously "knows how to do that."

My daughter is now eight, and yesterday we were watching the classic 1962 film version of To Kill a Mocking Bird. There was a scene in which Atticus Finch deals with a hostile old woman named Mrs. Dubose. You can watch the clip below, followed by a transcript from the screenplay,

Her hands dug into the pockets of her overalls, Scout moseys past the house of an old lady sitting on a rocking chair on her front porch, and calls out a greeting,
"Hey, Mrs. Dubose."
Mrs. Dubose snarls back in a shrill voice,
"Don’t you say 'hey' to me, you ugly girl. You say 'good afternoon, Mrs. Dubose'. You come over here when I’m talking to you! Don’t your daddy teach you to respect old people? You come back here!"
Scout meets  her father Atticus coming down the sidewalk and runs to him. Approaching Mrs. Debose, he gracefully removes his hat and addresses her, Scout hiding behind him.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Dubose. You look like a picture this afternoon. My goodness gracious, look at your flowers. Did you ever see anything more beautiful? Mrs. Dubose, the gardens at Bellingrath have nothing to compare with your flowers."

Clearly thrown, Mrs. Dubose replies meekly,
"Oh, I don’t think they’re as nice as they were last year."
Atticus answers,
"I can’t agree with you. I think your yard is going to be the show place of the town. Grand seeing you, Mrs. Dubose"
Atticus then lifts his hat to her, and continues down the street.  Mrs. Debose is left speechless.

 . . . 

I turn to my daughter and say to her,

"Did you see how he turned a bad guy into a good guy just now?... Or at least he turned an angry yelling lady into a quiet one."

My daughter smiled and nodded.

"How did he do that?" I asked.

"With good" she answered.



At 1:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Out of the mouths of babes

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I've been watching old swashbuckling sword movies with my kids. Partly rebelling against the super CGI superhero movies that are endlessly the next big thing. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed Thor and Iron Man 3 and such but I want to introduce my boys to heroes who fought without special effects of 2000. Some kind of once upon a time good overcame evil by showing mercy and compassion to their enemies when they waved the white flag. Perhaps too naiive, I want my kids to see Robin Hood as a true protector, a reluctant hero, a man with integrity. The violence serves as a metaphor to the intensity it takes to overcome our struggles. None of my kids are yet bullies but as they grow stronger they could be capable of using their strength to hurt those who hurt them. Turning bad guys into good guys is part of that shaping in me then in my kids. I dunno.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Now I see where you get your ideas from!


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