How to Train Your Dragon (Nonviolence)

Yesterday I had a bit of free time and decided to treat myself to a movie ... How to Train Your Dragon. I had a movie gift card lying around (awesome gifts for folks in religious life by the way) so I decided to splurge and treat myself to the 3D version.

I was expecting a pleasant story and 90 minutes in an imaginary world. What I wasn't expecting was an approachable story about the principles of nonviolence. (Warning, the rest of this post contains plot info from the movie, so read with caution if you plan to see the movie).

Nonviolence you ask? In a kids movie about slaying dragons? Well yes. Hiccup, the main character, is the son of the chief Viking in his village, a village that is plagued by attacking fire-breathing dragons that steal their livestock and destroy their homes. The goal of every man (and it seems woman) in the village is to become a successful dragon killer. It's the joie de vivre of village life. Which is a problem for hiccup, because unlike most Vikings he is skinny and slight and mild mannered.

To make a long story short though, he also discovers that he has a knack not for killing dragons, but for approaching them with compassion. By remaining open to the dragons and taking risks, he finds that everything the villagers know about dragons is wrong. The dragon with the ferocious bite .... he's afraid of snakes. The fire breathing dragon really likes it when you rub his tummy, and if you hit just the right spot he'll lie down helpless. As he continues his courageous journey of trust and vulnerability, he discovers that the dragons themselves are operating out of fear of something even scarier. And, in the end, he leads his community on a journey of nonviolence which turns their world upside down and leads to a time of peaceful coexistence and prosperity unimagined at the beginning of the movie.

Really ... it may be a cartoon, but it's deep. And enjoyable. Later, reflecting on the movie, I realized what a great analgoy even the premise and title of the movie is ... what is the journey of nonviolence if not an ongoing effort to train our own inner dragon?

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