Monday, August 8, 2011

Why America should ditch Cinderella

When it comes to March Madness and teams that don't seem likely to be in the playoffs, as Jon Acuff points out in Quitter, sportscasters have two go-to analogies: Cinderella and David vs. Goliath.  The underdog always gets pinned as one of these two characters because they're so familiar to Western Civilization.  Acuff's problem with this analogy, however, is that "David never knew Cinderella."

Let's compare their two stories: David, the shepherd boy who's not even a trained soldier, rises up and kills Goliath.  Cinderella, the victim of an evil stepmother and stepsisters, gets escorted to the palace for a ball at which the prince will decide who he's going to marry, and he chooses her.  David ends up as king, Cinderella as queen, so they have the same story, right?  Not so.  David gets anointed king one day in front of all his brothers, and goes right back out to tend his sheep.  Only later on does he come to Goliath, and even after defeating the giant and winning King Saul's favor (and daughter), David spends the next 7-10 years running from Saul, whose death must come before David can serve as king himself (and David won't lay a finger on Saul).  Cinderella, on the other hand, does absolutely nothing about her situation, just accepting her lot in life and dreaming of a better day, until one day her fairy godmother shows up and magically makes everything happen for her, to the point where the prince comes looking for her, where he sweeps her off her feet and they live "happily ever after."

In all the years from David's anointing by the prophet Samuel until he finally sits upon a throne over the tribe of Judah, then over all of Israel seven years later, David had to learn how to be king.  Cinderella shows up at the palace on Day One as queen and....knows how to be a domestic servant.  Can you say unequally yoked?  As Americans, we wonder why class and caste systems stay in some countries in such rigid structures, and it's simple: we grow up in a certain environment, and we generally know that better than anything else.  This is what has made The Beverly Hillbillies, Third Rock from the Sun, Big Bang Theory, and so many other culture-shock sitcoms work, to the extent that Hollywood keeps churning them out year after year. 

Still, the Cinderella myth persists.  You see it all over the place. In Drumline, the guy has a lot of talent as a drummer in a marching band, but can't seem to apply himself, so he just sits back and waits until the entire world bends around him and promotes him to the top.  Even in my beloved Star Trek reboot, James T. Kirk floats along until the entire world decides they can't possibly live without him as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise because of his proven...nothing.  In the original series, Kirk made captain in about nine years, but in the reboot he goes from stowaway to captain over the course of about two days, because the Enterprises's rightful captain, Christopher Pike, likes the fact that Kirk's too stupid to think about what he's doing before he does it.

Gosh, Zech, you seem awful critical of rise-to-fame stories.  Do you have any that you don't hate?

Actually, yes I do.  Take Rudy.  Take a guy who's smaller than I am and he wants to play on a championship-caliber Division I football team.  He tells his family, they laugh him off.  They don't even believe he'll go to college, much less play on the team at Notre Dame.  He applies for the school, but his grades aren't up to par, so he goes to a junior college.  He gets a job at the stadium working on the grounds and sleeps at night in the locker room.  He finally gets accepted and he has to beat the crap out of himself to impress one of the coaches enough to let him even be on the practice squad.  The coach didn't bow to Rudy, he says "The kid's got heart," which none of the players have.  Rudy ends up becoming an inspiration to his team, to the point where every single starter is willing to lay down his jersey and sit out so Rudy can play in one snap of the final game of his college career.

So where does all this apply to us?

I'm (probably, hopefully) not telling you anything new by saying God has a reason and a purpose for everything He has, is, or ever will put you through.  Just like the children of Israel, if we want our Promised Land, we have to go in and fight for it if we want to possess it.  David got his first taste of leadership moving sheep around all day.  He had nothing but time, so he learned how to love and serve the Lord, to be a man after God's own heart, out in the pasture -- first and foremost.  Then, when he first ran away from Saul, a couple hundred other men tagged along, and he got to lead men who didn't have to follow him, including several successful military campaigns.  He got to procure the logistics to support such men.  Cinderella, along with just about every other Disney princess, got to power pretty much based on looks and small talk.  I'm working at Domino's with a Master's degree because God hasn't finished with me there just yet.  But you can trust that when the time's up, God's gonna do it again, just like He did way back then.  Ditch Cinderella.  Embrace your trials, until you've earned the right to be where you want to be.

What trials are you going through right now?  What long-term goal are you working towards?  What do you have to do in order to possess your Promised Land?

1 comment:

  1. I've always thought Cinderella's whole story with her fairy godmother was sort of a reward for patiently serving her stepmother and stepsisters, even when they were being unjust to her. I get what you're saying though. You can't just sit around waiting for "Fate" to rescue you (though I don't think Cinderella expected her fairy godmother/the prince to rescue her. What can I say, I have a soft spot for Cinderella).