My son is a fan of pretty much anything Marvel that I’ll let him get his hands on. He loves what movies that he is allowed to watch (which isn’t all of them by a long shot), and faithfully checks out the novelizations from the library over and over again. What can I say? The kid has good taste.
As I’m writing this post, “Thor” is somewhere in my house for maybe the sixteenth time. Not the Norse god, but the book. (Come on, try and keep up!)
If you’re not familiar with Marvel’s version of Thor. I’ll give you the ultra-abridged version.
Odin, Thor’s father, and king of all Asgardians, is preparing to enter his perma-sleep or whatever. At any rate, he’s going lights-out for a long time, and his son Thor is due to become king. One problem: Thor is kind of a jerk. He’s relatively young, impetuous, and prefers to solve his problems at the end of a big hammer. Thor’s brother Loki is a bit sandy about not being king, so much so that he makes a deal with the bad guys, the frost giants from a neighboring world, to come to Asgard and overthrow Odin, Thor, and the whole mess of people. (Like I said, super-abridged.)
My son, in so many words, asked me why Loki was such a fan of the frost giants.
“That was where he was from,” I reply.
“No. He was from Asgard.”
“Well, he was adopted…”
Just like you, son. The villain of the story finds the source of his villainy in his adoption. So what does that say about you?
On the surface, Loki is a bad guy because he was adopted from the bad guys’ house. When he was a baby, he was left alone following a nasty battle. Odin (bless his heart) took baby Loki home and raised him as his own son. Years later, this adopted kid becomes a rebel to the nth degree, and threatens to destroy everything good about Asgard. Is this simply nature vs. nurture playing out in the heavenlies?
Is Loki a bad guy because his birth parents were bad? Was he destined to follow in their icy shoes? Because if you read the story on the surface, it sure looks that way. But here’s the kicker:
Odin never told Loki that he was adopted.
Oops. Bad idea, dad. Really bad idea.
Through a series of events, Loki discovers the truth, that he didn’t spring forth from the loins of his father. No wonder he always felt different somehow…
No amount of explaining can fix this mistake. Loki wrongly assumes that he was taken in as a bargaining chip to broker peace for future generations. All of the love of Odin cannot trounce this quite believable lie.
Love is critically important, but separated from proper instruction, it falls short. The way I read the story, Odin loved Loki as his own son, as any adoptive father should, but his failure to be honest with him nearly cost him everything.
Kids will believe some crazy stuff, especially about race, heritage, and the like. I’ve had to explain to my kids that just because they are Mexican in origin, it doesn’t mean that they can speak Spanish and make killer tacos effortlessly. And whether their biological parents are crackheads, deceased, or frost giants, they don’t have to settle for anything.
My kids are responsible to make their own choices, and I am responsible to equip them to make those choices wisely.
So was it Odin’s fault?
Odin couldn’t control Loki’s reaction, just like any parent cannot control their own children.
But just like any parent, Odin could have put all the cards on the table, and provided his son with all of the information available and help him reach an educated conclusion. That’s our job as parents, whether your kids were born of the frost giants or not.
All of us, no matter our origins, have choices to make, and while it might be easier to make the bad decision, we should strive for excellence. You don’t have to be your parents, your friends, or anything less than yourself. Be the most excellent you that you can be, and don’t settle for who you think that you have to be. You weren’t made to settle, but to soar.
So take wing. Let’s be better together.