So many stories have such complex themes and multiple layers it’s refreshing when you come across a story that has one simple message. And when that message is “Simple Kindness wins in the end” it’s a story we should pay attention to.
My copy of Snow White and Rose Red (sadly now gone – repatriated to a charity shop or other child or even disposed of in a bin – I have some regrets in life after all) always sat next to Rumplestiltskin as a sort of antidote to the poisonous imp. As a very young child I often had the suspicion that the nasty, ungrateful, greedy dwarf who was so proud of his beard was actually Rumplestiltskin himself – not only for their similar toxic qualities but because the pictures in those books were so similar.
But the story isn’t about the dwarf, it’s about the girls.
And the story isn’t about romance, it’s about character.
The story isn’t about conflict, it’s about kindness.
The story isn’t about “parental issues”, it’s about loving.
It’s a parable that shows how “love your enemy” can actually work – because the two girls show the logical outworking of what Jesus meant when He said Love your enemy. He meant, don’t have enemies (but maybe we weren’t ready to hear that at the time). And that’s what the two girls live whenever they encounter the cantankerous, greedy, ungrateful dwarf. It’s not that they’re actively “loving their enemy”, it’s that they see a person in need who needs their help and so they help. It’s not even a case of seeing him as anything other than like themselves – even though he is so unlike them. Considering him as an enemy doesn’t even cross their minds, only tenderness for others is in their minds. And that tenderness persists regardless of his gratitude (or lack of it); it persists regardless of how he talks to them; it persists regardless of his villainy; it persists over and over again. That’s what loving your enemy means. It means defeating your enemies by turning them into your friends (a recurring theme in the Once Upon a Time TV show in the relationship between another Snow and Regina).
Don’t have enemies. Don’t be an enemy.
Kindness is powerful.
(Tangent – interesting to note that the “romance” of the story, the fact that they both end up marries to princes at the end, seems almost incidental as if it’s bolted on at the end as a concession to societal pressures. Similarly with the fact that despite the kindness and love of the girls, there is still a violent denoument in the bear killing the dwarf – almost as if it’s two different stories spliced together. All very weird.)