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Willy Wonka & Morality Tales

Willy Wonka & Morality Tales

Hello and good day!

 "Uh-oh. Here comes Willy Wonka."

 He says it every single time I walk into the grocery store.

 He is a tall fellow, around my age, with a deep DJ voice.

 He is one of these funny and outgoing people who has a little quip for every customer he sees regularly.

 I am particularly fond of this individual because I watched him suffer through terrible hip pain for several years.

 When I first started shopping in his store, he had one of the worst limps I've ever seen.

 I would see him coming off of a break, and he would hobble from the back of the store where the employee break room was located to his register.

 Or I would see him out in the parking lot gathering carts.

 Every time he stepped down on the leg connected to the bad hip, he would have to lean far over to one side to offset the pain of impact.

 It was torturous just to watch him.

 I couldn't imagine being him.

 One day I asked him if the pain was as bad as it looked.

 "It's worse than it looks. It's miserable," he said.

 "How do you deal with it?" I asked.

 "Some days I take pain meds. But most of the time I just grit my teeth and bare it."

 About a year ago, I saw him out in the parking lot.

 When he noticed me, he waved.

 "Hold up a second," he yelled across the parking lot, with his deep voice that vibrates with resonance.

 He limped over to me with a big smile on his face.

 "They finally figured it out," he said.

 "They did! That's amazing," I replied.

 He had explained to me many times over the years that the doctors couldn't operate on his hip because of the way it had broken.

 Years of wear and tear exacerbated the unusual angle of the break such that there was no way to put in a replacement hip.

 But now, after 20 years of living with his bum hip, medical technology had generated a solution.

 He went in for surgery and the surgery was a success. Now when I see him, he has a perfectly balanced walk. He has lost about twenty pounds.

 And he is still young enough to engage in the activity that he has dreamt about for so many years.

 "Are you chasing your kid around yet?" I asked him the other day.

 "Every day," he said.

 "How old is your boy?"

 "He's ten."

 "You'll have many good years of running with him."

 \"I'm chasing his little butt all over the place. He never believed me when I told him how fast I used to be. I'm thinking about having another kid just so I'll always have somebody to chase."


"You're one of my favorite people to see. You're an inspiration. You know that? All those years in pain and you always had a good attitude and a smile for everybody," I told him.

 "Thank you," he said.

 Just then, a customer walked by.

 He was a father with two small daughters, and he was pushing a fully loaded shopping cart.

 My friend grabbed the father softly on the arm.

 "One second man. This is Willy Wonka right here. You all need to get over to his chocolate shop for a free hot chocolate."

 My friend didn't know that this man and his daughters were already regulars at Fortunato Chocolate.

 "We're already customers! We're on our way right now. Aren't we girls?" said the father.

 The two little girls clapped and nodded, their blond curls bouncing.

 When they smiled, I saw where their baby teeth had fallen out.

 My friend looked at me.

 "You know everybody, don't you, Willy Wonka?"

 "I like people," I said.

 I left the supermarket in a very good mood and for some reason, my mind got stuck on how this man always calls me Willy Wonka.

 And then for an hour or so, I couldn't stop thinking about how much my kids love the new Wonka movie and how much I loved the original Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory when I was growing up.

 My children were so enamored with the latest installment that I convinced them to go back and watch the original, and I watched it with them.

 I had been doing something very typical of people who belong to older generations.

 I'd been lecturing my sons about how even though the new movie is very good, nothing can beat the original.

 Then we watched the original and I had to eat humble pie.

 I have to admit that the new movie is more fun and far funnier.

 The special effects in the 1971 film do not hold up at all.

 My kids were unimpressed, and I couldn't blame them.

 Judged purely on entertainment value, the new movie is better.

 It isn't even close, in my opinion.

 However, the original does carry the day in one key regard.

 The original is an excellent and powerful morality tale, and my kids acknowledged this.

 Charlie is a good humble kid, and he wins in the end because of it.

 The rest of the kids are arrogant, spoiled, and entitled and their bad attitudes lead to their downfalls.

 I could see that the lesson landed hard on my sons.

 Even though my boys weren't as entertained as they would have liked, the movie did leave them better off as human beings.

 I could see the wheels turning in their heads.

 The movie inspired them to be good and well behaved, like Charlie.

 This begs a very interesting question.

 What is the criteria for good art?

 Is it only supposed to be entertaining?

 Or is it supposed to make you better?

 There is a very clear historical trend in which art has been stripped of morality in favor of pure entertainment.

 If you go back just three or four hundred years, you will find that almost all art had religious or moral connotations.

 That is no longer the case.

 Here is another thought to consider.

 Which is more entertaining?

 Reading a bestselling novel from your favorite genre or reading an enduring religious or philosophical text?

 Would you rather read a romance, or a courtroom drama, or a murder mystery, or an action adventure, or the Stoics, the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, or the Vedas?

 The former options are certainly more fun to read, but the latter options are more likely to improve you as a person.

 I believe that this is a big part of why old timers are always telling the younger generations that their art isn't as good as it was in the olden days.

 Of course, there is the nostalgia factor.

 We all prefer what we grew up with.

 However, there is also an easily observable historical trend in which pure entertainment has become more and more favored over morality tales.

 Technology has something to do with this phenomenon, but I can't get into that today because I am out of space.

 Thank you so much for your time today.

 I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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