Quite recently, I came across and interview with director Guillermo del Toro, a devotee of all things horror and Gothic, who was almost hired to direct the Hobbit movies (which might have been considerably better if he had) and most recently brought the very Gothic and extraordinarily violent film Crimson Peak to the screen. I have not seen, nor do I wish to see Crimson Peak. Reading the review on Movieguide.org, which gave the film a -4 for content (which on Movieguide means it’s irredeemably bad), convinced me that it is not something anybody should want to see. But what was interesting about Mr. del Toro’s interview was something he said about the film’s two villains. After mentioning their violent and dark childhood, he said that he was convinced that all violence and wickedness stems from violence and wickedness done to the person in the past and that if “we all really looked after children until they were ten or twelve, the world would be a perfect place.” That sounds really good, doesn’t it? A perfectly implementable, infallible plan for the salvation of humanity.
Hold on, now, Mr. del Toro. Wait a second. Let’s do a thought experiment. Forget all of your biases and worldview opinions. Look at the world the way it is. Let us imagine a child, in a perfect home. No fantasy, now. No angels for parents. No perfect robot caretakers (not yet, anyway). Picture that perfect home. No fighting, no kicking or hitting or stealing from siblings. Actually, siblings are a bad influence. No siblings. Do the parents fight? Well, not where this child can hear them. No TV, no internet, no books. Certainly no books. And, while you’re at it, you’d probably better homeschool the kid, and build a nice Donald Trump style wall around the backyard. No visitors. No social calls from relatives. You must not show him anything bad, not even the slightest thing, nothing that could corrupt that little mind. And no religion. Definitely no religion. For there to be religion, you would have to explain good and evil. We must not give our child Ideas.
I sound extraordinarily cynical, don’t I? Don’t worry. It gets worse.
This isn’t going to work, is it? The parents are going to slip up, something is going to happen, and the kid is going to learn that there is such a thing as Being Bad. If he hasn’t figured it out for himself already. Ok, let’s try again. Robot time now. Raise a kid in a white, antiseptic-smelling room with padded walls and nothing sharp. Get some robots to feed him and look after him. Does he swat at the robots? Does he cry and kick? Ok. Terminate the subject. Let’s try again.
Does this sound like Brave New World to you? If that plan is too much to stomach, just try raising your own kid right here, in the world. Or, if you don’t have kids, look around you. Watch someone else’s baby for a few hours. Experience the world. Interact with other human beings. I guarantee that you will discover that people are not ‘basically good’. We do not somehow turn bad through our environment. Everybody’s packing in their own evil. That world, where you can raise a perfect kid, completely apart from any bad influences, without them discovering the evil in their own hearts, is such a ridiculous fantasy that any publisher you sent it to would tell you, in the famous words of Willy Wonka, to ‘go and boil your head’.
Incidentally, this reminds me of another film, which I actually did see, called Tomorrowland. It is a remarkably well done and consistent film, and perhaps I should shut up so that you can go watch it and see it make my point for me. The premise of the film is simple: What if we got all of the most brilliant people together, the dreamers and inventors, and gave them a place free from the evils of politics and such like? What would happen? What would they create? What they do end up creating, through the course of the film, is a wonderful utopia, whose leader is perfectly willing and ready to sit by and watch the people of earth destroy themselves, without even raising a finger to help. This perfect utopia, free of politics and, supposedly, of evil, has become a haven for people privileged enough to be allowed to escape from the catastrophes on earth.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
I’m sorry to go on and on like this, but I think I’ve made my point. People are not basically good. We are not born good and somehow become bad. We cannot be raised to correct this badness. We cannot fight this badness through strength of our own. We all pack our own evil, into utopias and into the caves of hermits and into the Mars colonies (if they are ever going to actually start any). Very big walls across borders won’t keep the evil out, because it’s already in. And, apart from Jesus, there is nothing we can do about it.
For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.