Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Young daughter's clairvoyance gives old dad hope

A face of the Empire.

A little episode in our family life that I absolutely had to share with you:

My daughter has been bugging me for weeks about seeing the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time in her life. Last weekend, I reluctantly granted her wish. She's only seven, and those movies are not exactly your latest Disney production. People get hacked and blown to bits, and after all it's about war. So I was hesitant: how was she going to take it?

She took it pretty well. Not only did she love every part of it and did not appear traumatized, but she also followed the plot way better than I did when I was in her shoes.

At one point, though, something unexpected happened.

We were in the middle of Episode 5, when the Empire is beating the hell out of the good guys who are running for their lives. My daughter turns around and asks me: "Dad, what's an Empire?"

Suddenly I'm sweating bullets. What a darn good question. How do you even start explaining this to a 7-year old?

I begin to construct the answer in my mind: 'An empire is a political system which' -- Stop. That's already three words that she won't understand. Come on man, simplify. So I spurt out this:

"An empire is when a small number of rich and powerful people take things away from everyone else and tell them what to do."

Silence. Did she even hear me? The film continues at full speed and we're now in the scene when Landau betrays his friends and hands them over to Vader. My daughter is clearly inside that scene and completely oblivious of me. Ah! whatever, I think. We'll continue this political conversation in a few years.

Then, she slowly turns her head towards me while her eyes are still locked on the screen, and she asks with a tranquil voice: "So... Are we in an Empire today?"

Holy cow. The first time I formulated that same question, I was about 40. The new generation sees things we don't. The force of change is strong with them. The Empire is in trouble indeed. Episode 6 is next, and our younglings are holding the lead roles in it.