Disney: How Do I Explain Bigotry to My Granddaughter?

Please tell me how to explain bigotry to my granddaughter.

She’s got beautiful blue eyes that radiate. She just celebrated her first “two-digit” birthday, and the world to her is exciting and open and she has a heart big enough to encompass it all.

So, tell me how to sit down with her and explain bigotry.

A little girl with blue eyes
Photo by Conner Baker/Unsplash.com

Tell me how to explain that even though her mother and father are Scientologists as are her grandparents, that the company that makes the movies she most loves apparently does not condone her or her family.

She loves her family. From an early age, she looked forward to having brothers and sisters and she’s happiest when the family is all together. Over the years, that family has grown in numbers—she has three siblings and two cousins—as has her extended family which spreads across the great northeast, in the warm southeast, the west and even Europe.

She’s happily at home in many places, as she has family in many homes. She does not discriminate between those who are Scientologists and those who are not. They are all family to her. She would not understand why, because some of them are Scientologists, they are somehow less worthy of her love.

Perhaps I could tell her that the movie characters she admires—those who stand up for their beliefs, who overcome obstacles to find their own true way—are just imagination. That the real world is unfortunately different and that, in that world, large companies don’t aspire to the ideals they portray. That, in the real world, a drive for profit trumps principle, that denigrating the beliefs of her family is just a line in a ledger for someone, a property used to gather advertising dollars.

Should I just tell her the world is flawed? That despite the great advancements in the sciences and technology that we have not yet made commensurate strides when it comes to civility or even simple compassion?

Perhaps I could make it a teachable moment: a chance to talk about history, the ebb and flow of prejudice and the misery it has caused. I could review with her the bile that has been directed against religions and religious beliefs down through the millennia and the fate that awaits those who spew such invective.

I could explain to her that, in the end, history doesn’t view bigots well. That, at best, they become another example of the many ways we all lose when we fail to learn the lessons of our forbearers.

Or should I just tell her the world is flawed? That despite the great advancements in the sciences and technology that we have not yet made commensurate strides when it comes to civility or even simple compassion?

Or perhaps I tell her that some people are afraid of anything new? That every philosophy and idea and visionary that has emphasized the importance of the individual and of the spirit over material ends has been lied about and denigrated?

Of course, these are important things to know. They are important things to come to face. If nothing else, they could add weight to the value of holding to her own integrity, her own view of the world, her own path and purpose.

She will, I am sure, in time, come to understand these things in her own way and she will, I am sure, make her own positive mark on the damaged world in which she lives. She will, I am also sure, help to raise up the world through her life, with her friends, with her family and with the people she meets along the way.

But, perhaps somewhat selfishly, I’d just prefer giving her a few more years of being a child. A few more years of bright-eyed innocence. A few more years when the world is miraculous and open for her to explore. A little more time without the harsh reality of bigotry against the faith of her parents and grandparents and the aunts and uncles and friends she holds so dear.

I know. It’s not a perfect answer but it’s what I’ve got.

Perhaps you have a better suggestion.

If so, please tell me, Disney, how should I explain bigotry to my granddaughter?

David Aden
David is a software engineer, father of two sons and grandfather to six grandchildren. He has worked in and written about high tech for more 25 years and currently lives and works in Clearwater, Florida where he volunteers time to various community programs.