Freedom From Discipline

You’ve no doubt heard about the high school athlete who was disqualified for dropping an Eff-Bomb during competition? After failing to clear the Pole vault, he cursed and then was disqualified from the meet.  His disqualification cost the entire team points, in turn costing them the state championship.  People got up in arms about how something so small and un-athletic could cost so many so much.

The athlete admitted he was wrong, and admitted the mounting pressure caused him to accidentally slip up.  Now adults are applying pressure to change the rules.  It’s disturbing how quickly, and strongly, pressure can build.  Which reminds me…

I recently saw a movie so disturbing that I still think about it before I fall asleep, and I saw the movie two weeks ago.

I don’t often set out to watch disturbing movies, an evening encounter with Hannibal Lecter cured me of that, but my friend Aaron invited me to go see it and  Aaron has excellent taste in movies, music, and pants, so I and several friends agreed.  We saw a movie called “Hanna” which was a brilliant, post-modern Fairy Tale.

Now when I say Fairy Tale I don’t mean it in the “Disney Princess Story” way we’ve come to expect.  I say it in the Horrifyingly Germanic way that children’s stories were told about 200 years ago.  As Dwight Schrute consistently reminds us, Fairy Tales were told to children for educational purposes as opposed to entertainment value.

The purpose of a fairy tale, as told by the Brothers Grimm, was to use fear as a motivational device to keep children away from strangers, animals, mysterious woodsmen, talking cats, and poisoned fruit.

Hanna is a coming of age movie about a teenaged girl who has been raised somewhere in the arctic by her ex-CIA father.  Given the choice to continue living in refuge from the world and all of its horrors (wicked stepmother included) or entering society, she chooses to experience life… after completing a mission for her father.

Raised in brutal and rugged conditions with an almost feral understanding of nature and relationships, Hanna must journey across western Europe, from her home, to meet her father at the abandoned Brother’s Grimm amusement park in Germany.  It’s a story filled with intrigue, intensity, neck snapping, arrow pincushioning, rabbit skinning, and not coincidentally; a moral lesson that you’ll fear not taking to heart.

The performances are all first-rate; Eric Bana is bold and calculating as Hanna’s father, and 16-year-old Saoirse Ronan somehow manages to float between earthy and etheral while dealing out dialogue and devastatingly realistic destruction.  As good as they are, they pale in comparison to the villains.  Cate Blanchett brings a ruthless determination (the kind not seen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and a cunning deviousness to the screen as Hanna’s nemesis while Tom Hollander is a revelation of perversion as the hair plugged henchman who clearly enjoys his job.  You’ll never look at a man in a track suit again without cringing.

The moral lesson?  Discipline is what gives us freedom.

Halfway through the film, Hanna meets another teen-aged girl.  She’s the polar opposite of Hanna.  While she knows just about everything that Television and the internet have to offer (boob jobs, Hermes handbags, and boys) she has never been protected from, or trained in anything.  She’s a walking grease fire.  Her parents don’t think it’s odd that 16-year-old Hanna is free to travel on her own, after all, “They are raising their daughter to be independent too!”

Their plan for raising an independent daughter is to be completely hands off, allowing their daughter to live a completely unrestrained life of indulgence.  It’s a convenient strategy, because it also allows them to continue living their lives in a state of irresponsible, arrested adolescence as well.  In truth, discipline is a sign of love, and her parents are proving that they don’t really love her because they refuse discipline.

What they don’t understand is that Hanna’s years of difficult discipline and training are what allows her to walk the world freely.  Her ability to care for, and defend herself, mean that she has unrestrained access to the world she is now experiencing.  Hanna’s friend isn’t free to explore the world, she’s a slave to it.  Her ability to recite information about events, fashion, and virtuality, go hand in hand with her inability to experience and process reality.

When we want freedom from discipline, we fail to grasp that freedom comes from discipline.  Everything else is slavery to self.

Discipline is what refines what is inside us so that when pressure builds, it forces good things out of our lives.  Pressure merely reveals how well-disciplined we are… or aren’t.

When pressure bursts us, what’s inside us is revealed.  This doesn’t means that we are unworthy of redemption or mercy, it means that terrible things live inside of us and unless otherwise dealt with, they will continue to seep out and damage the lives of others.  Bearing the responsibility for our actions, regardless of how thoughtful or thoughtless they may be, is what causes us to think before we act the next time… because pressure never tops building.

Was there a time that pressure revealed your discipline or lack thereof?  I’d love to hear it, because I once ate an entire box of Hostess O’s and a gallon of peach iced tea.  It did not result in freedom.

12 Responses to “Freedom From Discipline”

  1. Sharon O June 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I love your comment, when pressure builds what’s inside us is revealed. At some point in our lives we all will face decisions and in that moment, our real self might appear. The question is, will we be happy with ourselves after?
    I love your writing and the way you challenge us to think.

    • Jon June 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      “Will we be happy with ourselves after?” such a good question….

  2. Chris Nye June 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    “The fish is most free when it is restricted to the water” – Tim Keller

    Naturally. Our next Parenting Workshop will be a screening of HANNA.

  3. Jon June 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    If you got Tim Keller to come, I would pretend I was your kid…

  4. Mike Maxwell June 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    Was there a time that pressure revealed your discipline or lack thereof? Oh so many… but yeah….every time my daughter brings home that bucket of cookie dough for a school fundraiser. It’s amazing to me that it takes about 24 of ’em before I come to my senses.

    • Jon June 9, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      THat’s the kind of pressure that gets me every time!

  5. Josh H June 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Great post- and great Dwight pic!

    • Jon June 9, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      I believe the quote for the picture is, “Die Saddam”.

      • Josh H June 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

        Actually I believe its, “Take that Saddam!” but same general premise

  6. jon June 15, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    even better.

  7. Cheryl Q June 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    When I first moved out on my own I really started to learn that “treating” myself to: skipping the dishes for the night (or week), staying up a little longer for one more show, putting off those bills till next week… was not a “treat” at all. Heb 12:11 was a huge light bulb over my head… training myself in discipline resulted in the ultimate treat: peace and freedom. Less stress, less oversleeping, less late fees, less overall angst about the looming load of all that gets put off in the name of “treating” yourself because “you deserve it!”

    • Jon June 16, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      Good words, powerful and true! I love how often the phrase “that you deserve” get’s used in commercials… especially for lawyers.

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