CAVEAT: I’m totally ripping off this idea (with some modification) from Joseph Lalonde. In fact, his 25 Leadership Lessons and Quotes from Captain America: Civil War is WAY better than this post. You should read it! More importantly, you should regularly visit his site and read his excellent blog.
Your kids are probably begging you to take them to see Captain America: Civil War. With a word of slight caution about violence and a few uses of profanity, I would recommend you take them. But don’t stop there. Take them out for pizza afterwards and use the movie as a launching pad for some conversations about life. The movie is LOADED with great life lessons on taking responsibility, the consequences of our actions, the value of friendship, the role of government, and the cost of standing for convictions. Consider using some of the following quotes to start those conversations.
[Obligatory Spoiler Alert]
1. Friendship isn’t always easy.
Iron Man has just learned that Winter Soldier is responsible for the death of his parents. In his anger, he is going to destroy Winter Soldier. Captain America, torn between two friends, tries to prevent this.
Captain America: “Sorry, Tony. You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any other choice. He’s my best friend.”
Iron Man: “So was I…”
Friendship isn’t easy – especially during adolescence. Especially with teenaged girls! (Can I get an, “Amen”?) Teaching our kids to value friendship, even when it isn’t easy, is an important lesson. Sometimes being a friend means standing up to a friend. Help your child understand the importance of being the truest kind of friend – the type that warns a friend when he is traveling down a dangerous path!
2. We are directly impacted by those with whom we associate.
Sam Wilson (Falcon): [to Captain America] “I just wanna make sure we consider all our options. The people that shoot at you usually wind up shooting at me.”
I’ve head it said, “If you lay in bed with dogs, you will catch fleas.” The company we keep is important. We usually rise (or sink) to their level. Even if we don’t, our reputations are usually elevated (or lowered) based upon the company we keep. Challenge your children to consider closely the friends they choose. When people shoot at their friends, they will take fire too.
3. Stand on your convictions.
Margaret “Peggy” Carter: “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, YOU move.'”
Peggy’s statement about planting ourselves like a tree reminds me of Psalm 1. In fact, you should read that to your kids in the course of this conversation. Help them see the importance of understanding and standing upon our convictions. As a parent, it is your job to help shape those convictions. Please don’t surrender that job to others! Teachers, coaches, and ministers can be enlisted to help you on that journey, but they shouldn’t serve as your surrogate. Help your child shape their convictions about church, the Bible, Jesus, morals, family, and life. Then help them see correct ways to stand for those convictions.
4. Look out for others.
King T’Chaka: “Victory at the expense of innocents is no victory at all.”
King T’Chaka delivers a stirring speech to the Marvel Universe version of the United Nations. He is discussing the damage that was left in the wake of the last Avengers battle (See Avengers 2). His argument is a dividing point in this movie. But the essence of what he says is a great conversation starter for you and your child.
“Bullying” is a buzz word today. Standing for those who are weaker is a hallmark of leadership and Christianity. Jesus consistently and lovingly elevated the weak. Help your child to understand that picking on those weaker is wrong. Show them how standing for the weaker is brave and noble.
5. Don’t surrender your rights easily.
Tony Stark: “I saw how dangerous my weapons were in the wrong hands, so I took control.”
Steve Rogers: “You chose to do that. If we sign these accords, it takes away our right to choose.”
Okay. So my point here may be a bit politicized, but let’s think about it. We can either allow government regulation to dictate morality, or we can allow for a free society where individuals exercise their morality without coercion. While this may not be a talk you should have with your 5 year-old, your 15 year-old needs to think through issues like this. I suggest you guide that discussion before some idiot college professor does.
6. Disagreement doesn’t have to be destructive.
In the most rollicking scene of the film, the two sides of the avengers are duking it out on an airport tarmac. Black Widow and Hawkeye, who have been the closest of friends since the first Avengers movie, engage each other in battle.
Black Widow: “Are we still friends?”
Hawkeye: “That depends on how hard you hit me.”
The line is humorous, but it proves a vital point. We may find ourselves on opposite sides of issues from people we like and respect. While we may disagree on important fundamental issues, this does not give us license to be disagreeable. Christlikeness demands that we treat each other with dignity and respect, even when we don’t deserve it! These are hard lessons to learn. Even for adults. Especially for presidential candidates.
7. Understand what is really important in life.
Tony Stark: “Got a passport?”
Peter Parker: [chuckling] Um, no. I don’t….
Tony Star: “You ever been to Germany?”
Peter Parker: “No.”
Tony Stark: “Oh, you’ll love it.”
Peter Parker: “I can’t go to Germany!”
Tony Stark: “Why?”
Peter Parker: “I got…. homework.”
Tony Stark: “Alright, I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say that.”
Stark is recruiting Spider Man (YAY!!!!) to his side. Peter Parker has a hard time seeing his role in this battle. After all, he has an Algebra assignment due tomorrow.
Helping our kids see the difference between important things and ultimate things is a huge part of parenting. School is important. Commitment to teams is important. Relationships are important. Faith is ultimate. Jesus is ultimate. If we don’t teach our kids the difference between the important and the ultimate, somebody else will. Be forewarned: they probably will put things in the wrong categories. DO NOT surrender this task to others!
8. I’m old. You’re young. That’s not an insult…. bruh.
Spider Man: “Hey, you guys ever seen that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?”
Before Spider Man recreates the battle technique rebels on Hoth used to topple AT-ATs, he refers to my childhood as “really old.” When he spewed his line about The Empire Strikes Back, the collective chuckle in the movie theater came from 40 somethings who, like me, were hit in the face by Marvel with our ever-increasing age.
But that’s not a bad thing. In a culture that values youth above all else, we should help our kids see that, while we are not experts in all things, our life experience has taught us a thing or two – and we are more than glad to share that experience with them. We want the best for them. Sharing life’s journey with them is one simple way we can accomplish that.
Another way is watching Star Wars movies with them!