In this latest installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, in order to boost attendance in the Jurassic theme park, scientists created new, genetically modified dinosaurs. What could go wrong with that?! Lots. And not only does it make for a fun movie, it also makes for some opportunities for important discussions.
At the heart of the movie is the issue of genetic engineering. In this case, genetic engineering is motivated by money and war. Some are doing is to generate more entertainment value and therefore more income for the park. Other investors are also motivated by the hopes of creating a weapon of sorts that can be controlled and unleashed on enemies. In today’s world, we have those, but we also have people who are motivated by more altruistic desires—like the desire to cure people, to prevent disease, to help people who can’t have babies, etc. Whether the motive is good or bad, the question at the heart of it is one we need to think carefully about—how far is too far when it comes to science? At what point are we using our gifts and talents and knowledge responsible and at what point are we simply playing God? Are we opening up a Pandora’s box, solving one problem but creating a much bigger one instead?
These are tough questions and they don’t have simple answers. The one thing I do know is that what you think about God will affect the way you think about them and the way you answer them. A person who believes there is a loving, caring, all knowing and all powerful God who has man’s good in mind will think differently than a person who believes there is no God at all. The latter will like wholly to science for answers, the other will see science as a piece of the larger puzzle of which God is master and King.
- How far is too far when it comes to science?
- Were the Jurassic scientists crossing a boundary when they decided to create new species?
- How do you decide what’s right and wrong when it comes to scientific exploration and experimentation?
I know, Jurassic World doesn’t exactly seem a movie about parenting. It’s not, exactly, but it does have an interesting analogies. Owen is essentially the good father. He understands the dinosaurs and is able to create special relationships with them. His key is that he doesn’t try to control them, but instead works to create a relationship with them. This sets him apart from almost everyone. Hoskins (a military man) is eager to control the dinosaurs so he can use them for military purposes, but has no sensitivity to the dinosaurs need for relationship. They won’t just be commanded or ordered about. They will only follow someone they respect and someone they know. That takes time.
When Owen is first introduced to the newly created dinosaur, Indominus Rex, he immediately recognizes all kinds of problems with I.R.’s upbringing—the kinds of problems which, Owen knows, will be difficult to undo. She was raised in isolation. That’s not good for a dinosaur. They need community. The only “relationship” she has ever had is with the crane that brings her her daily food. She has had no contact with any other living being. She has no context for who she is because she’s never seen another being like herself. This is a bad enough problem for something small, but she’s a specially created super-dinosaur who is nearly indestructible. When she got out and started experiencing the world and meeting other living creatures, she didn’t have a good grid for processing anything. Not to mention, she was angry. As Owen said, “She is seeing all of this for the first time and she doesn’t even know what she is.”
She had never been disciplined and never been crossed in her lifetime. Now that she was fully grown, the opportunities for doing that were past. She was the most powerful thing around, and she was spoiled and angry.
I know it’s a fictional movie about dinosaurs, but there are some good parenting points in there.
- Relationships matter.
- A child’s relationship with authority is HUGELY important. It needs to be a relationship, not simply a dictatorship. It’s not about control, but relationship. When a child loves you, they are more eager to please you.
- A child’s relationship with a community is also HUGELY important. It’s within a community that they gain a sense of who they are in relationship to the world around them. It’s in community that they get crossed and disciplined and put in their place…and it’s best if that happens while they are young and manageable. Community teaches boundaries just as it teaches context and identity.
- Identity Matters.
- Knowing who you are is a critical step for grounding a child when they experience things for the first time. Other dinosaurs didn’t go bonkers when they were introduced to freedom for the first time. The reason the I.R. went crazy was that it was all new to her, AND she didn’t even know what/who she was. A kid who is well-grounded, who is settled in their sense of identity before they experience freedom/life/college (what have you) for the first time will adjust much more gracefully than a child who feels lost to start with.
- Identity is something you gain largely from a good relationship with authority and from being in community. Identity is a product of relationship.
- Childhood matters.
- Childhood is a formative, impressionable season in life. It is generally the easiest time to lay the groundwork of relationships, authority and community and identity. In many ways the child is a blank slate to work with—far easier that dealing with a teenager who is jaded and wounded and has their own ideas about everything.
- Besides being a formative time in life, childhood is also a manageable period, where an adult can have some power over the child if needed. Because of her size and strength (and fierce temperament), there was a small window of time to lay the groundwork for the I.R. with relationships and identity before she was too big to handle. This was true for the I.R., but it’s also true for humans. It’s said that many children can overpower their moms as early as five years old. Respect for authority is something that really needs to be established early in a child’s life.
- How has community shaped your understanding of who you are?
- How do you relate to authority?
- Have you ever felt like you were experiencing things for the first time without knowing who you were? How did that feel?
- How does being “grounded” and having a sense of identity help someone when they are in a wholly new situation in life?
- If you look at relationships, identity and childhood, which of those do you struggle with?