O! it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Paul Bunyan, Roald Dahl’s BFG, and the Jolly Green Giant are not without their charms, but all anti-types derive their power from types. If the types become overrun with exceptions, the exceptions lose their power. There is a strong defense to be made for the giants from the old stories that eat sheep, steal maidens, and wield enormous clubs. This second type of giant gives shape to the ugliness of the proposition, “might makes right.”
It’s important to have right feelings about something as corrosive as “might makes right” because everywhere we look people strive to make us have wrong feelings about it. “Might makes right” comes to us in many guises. It comes to us through Mob violence and through intolerance of dissent. It comes to us through the dismissal of statements not because they’re untrue, but because they’re “on the wrong side of history” or because they “resist cultural inevitability” or because they don’t “speak in the voice of the people.” Most noticeably it trickles down through a pack mentality that derives morality from the fashion of consensus. This is a far cry from Solzhenitsyn’s declaration, “One word of truth outweighs the world,” which insists that the truth is big. By contrast, society’s increasingly widespread belief states: big is truth.
It was Kierkergaard who said, ‘When truth conquers with the help of 10,000 yelling men —even supposing that that which is victorious is truth; with the form and manner of the victory a far greater untruth is victorious.’ I think he would agree that one can hear the whistling of the giant’s iron club in the roar of the mob.
The Bible stands in contradiction to popular wisdom, using weak things of the world to confound mighty. Noah and his family disagree with the entire human race in order to obey God. David resists the armor and weapons of Saul and defeats Goliath with a sling and stone age ammunition. The good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep. King Jesus does not save Himself from the wrath of God, but bears the curse on the cross.
In a time where kids are bombarded by the glamor of protest, I think that it is a good idea to look for stories that support a biblical view of power and weaken the romance of the mob. Simply put, stories with ugly, self-serving giants, help to reveal the grotesque union of might and appetite. Such stories might also help children have an emotional vocabulary that resists participation in lies.