Recently, our family was watching the movie, Watership Down. Chip and I have both read the book by Richard Adams, several times each. The first time I saw the movie was many years ago on a date with Chip. I remember wondering “Why is he taking me to a kids’ animated movie?” But, not far into the movie, I realized that this was indeed no children’s tale (I had not read the book yet). Now, after having viewed the movie about 3 times and having read the book at least twice, it dawned on me that there are some important life lessons that can be learned from this story. Here’s what I picked up (you may have gleaned other points) …
Lessons for Humans from Rabbits:
Listen to the ‘Seers’ among you. We’ve all met them…people who seem a bit odd to us. People who ‘see’ things that we simply cannot see. They seem a bit mystical to us and sometimes they frighten us a bit or at least creep us out just a tad. Maybe some of us are such people and we feel a little ill at ease sharing what we ‘see’ because we know that the majority just won’t get it. Seers are often poked fun of or ostracized because of their different-ness. But we would be remiss to ignore them or dismiss what they say. Often God uses such people to warn us, to correct us, to protect us. Listen to such people. Weigh what they say carefully before deciding what to do with what they have seen. Real seers know that they are only human and can be mistaken, so they are very grateful when people take them seriously and consider their message carefully, even if in the end, it is decided the vision was the result of too much spicy food.
Choose your leaders carefully. I recall when seeing Watership Down for the first time wondering how cute, furry, gentle rabbits could ever be portrayed as violent, selfish, grasping. I wonder if rabbits really can be violent. I still have difficulty picturing that. Nevertheless, the message is clear that especially in a democracy where people have the freedom to choose who their leaders will be, they have an obligation, as well as a right, to choose their leaders wisely. We are very remiss when we become lazy and allow others to decide for us, or we simply go along with the crowd because we don’t have the time to do our homework and research for ourselves who would be best to lead us. You don’t necessarily choose the strongest, the biggest or even the one who’s been around the longest. Choose carefully.
Allow outside input…avoid becoming ingrown. In the movie, we saw the stress and problems that crept into the warren when they developed a ‘just us’ mentality or expected any newcomers to conform totally to the existing way of doing things. Any group that becomes ingrown starts to die. Non-conformity of any kind was harshly dealt with to eliminate it. But along with the non-conformity goes creativity, problem solutions, growth, even happiness. Welcome input from outside. You don’t always have to take that idea, but it may just provide the basis for a solution to a thorny problem or bring more growth and even joy into your life.
Don’t neglect the spiritual. This point is related to the first one but is sufficiently different that I thought it deserved mentioning on its own. Each of us has a spiritual component. We are not just physical beings. When we begin living as only physical beings, we become no better than animals. Each of us has the ability to connect with God, to live beyond the mundane things of life, to strive for excellence, to enjoy relationships. We might not be that seer mentioned in point one, but we all can enjoy that spiritual connection with God, relating with Him one on one.
Appreciate the valuable contributions of the female of the species. Amazingly, I have discovered that it is not only the males among us who can forget what women can offer. I see women the world over who feel they have nothing to contribute, they have no real talents (or at least they don’t have any inkling what they may be), no real opinions that are of value, no ideas worth listening to. How can this be when we were all created in the image and likeness of God – both male and female? To say otherwise is a huge insult to God! Those who have seen the movie (or read the book), remember when the outsider rabbit points out to the leader of the breakoff group that there was something very wrong…no does! He was not only talking of procreation because later in the movie, we saw the valuable contributions of several of the does, which helped ensure the success and thriving of the warren. When we neglect the females among us, ignoring or dismissing our valuable contributions, it is the whole society that suffers and becomes sick. I know I am very biased in this point, but nevertheless, I think history and research would prove me correct in this. We need to learn to appreciate and value the contributions and lives of all human beings – male and female, young (even the unborn) and old, white or black (or any other colour), healthy or infirm. All of us have been put here on this earth with a purpose.
So, there are the lessons I learned from the rabbits of Watership Down. If you have not read the book, I recommend you do. It is a fascinating tale with deep lessons for us humans. We can learn from God’s creatures. Even God Himself said “Consider the ant…” (Proverbs 6:6-11).