Ferdinand: An Unexpected Learning

This past Friday was a “no school” day, so I booked the afternoon off and took my son Noah out to a movie. Now Noah is a delightful 19-year-old on the autism spectrum who is into animated movies in a big way. I am talking about watching them 100’s of times. The amount of Toy Story 1, 2 and 3 dialogue that I have unintentionally committed to memory is, well let’s just say more than average.


So to say that we left to see Ferdinand with different levels of enthusiasm would be an understatement.


Ferdinand is an animated movie about an enormous bull in Spain, who did not fit the mold. He was a flower sniffing lover, not a typical raging bull bred to fight in the ring.



I was quite moved by the way the narrative progressed, showing many creative non-violent ways to resist the pressures to conform and fight, as big bulls are expected to.


This resonated with me as I grew up learning an ethic of non-violence and now work as a conflict mediator, helping clients get out of tit-for-tat cycles of distrust or revenge and find creative non-violent ways to prevent, manage and resolve their concerns.


I came home from the movie, to find a post announcing the death of Dr. Gene Sharp at the age of 90.  Dr. Sharp is the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of nonviolent action.  He was known for his extensive research and writings on non-violent action, which have influenced numerous resistance movements around the world.


Over the weekend I found myself reflecting on the connections between this animated bull and the works of Gene Sharp which I was first introduced to during my undergraduate studies.


If you are struggling to be yourself in a world full of bias, prejudice and pressures to conform to roles or expectations that are not true for you, or if you are needing some inspiration to keep up the work of resistance and seeking to change our world by non-violent means,  look up the work of Dr. Gene Sharp, or read some of the works that influenced him such as Einstein, Gandhi, Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., take someone to go see Ferdinand!


And if you have no one to go with, well look me up as I am sure Noah would love to see it another 99 times. 😉



Leave a Reply