What you are not aware of can and will control you.
About twenty-five years ago I was at Disneyland with several of my friends. I had been there many times and one of my favorite rides was “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I enjoyed the music, art, and the general excitement of it all. The sensation of quickly sliding down to the next level in a boat was also a lot of fun.
For some unclear reason I suddenly looked the pirate scenes more closely.
Pirates of the Caribbean
As we entered the large room with a captured ship there was a bound woman getting ready to walk the gangplank. There were pirates in the background gleefully observing her while getting the next victim ready. The scene of the captured town in flames showed a group of young frightened women on a platform being auctioned off to the highest bidder. Three or four women were being chased around the burning buildings attempting to escape their pirate pursuers. Several pirates were lying on the ground drunk disinterestedly watching the whole scene. Another prisoner was trapped in a burning jail cell trying to persuade a dog to come closer as the dog had the keys to the cell in his mouth.
We entered the main pirates’ lotto, which had piles of loot scattered everywhere. There laid a drunken captain lounging in the middle of it all. There were many personal items depicted in the middle of the treasures.
About 10 years ago I was in New England on a vacation with my family. We were playing miniature golf at a “Pirate’s Cove”. I looked up and there was a cage that housed prisoners until they starved to death. On each hole there was a continuing story of Captain Blackbeard. Part of the tale involved his marriage to his 12th wife. She was 16 years old. TYhe governor of the state attended the wedding. It was a major societal event.
What is it about pirates that we admire and romanticize so much? What characteristics should we embrace?
That aspect I find particularly disturbing is that their terror is guised under the cloak of light fun and entertainment. This exposure begins in childhood for essentially all of us.
What Are They Really Doing?
They rob at will. They not only just kill their victims they often use perverse methods of torturing them to death. What is admirable about raping and selling women and children? The prisoner potentially being burned alive did not seem much of a concern to them. Why did the governor of a southern state attend the marriage of a brutal older man to an underage girl? Why did I need to learn about that story while enjoying an evening of miniature golf with my family? Society has frowned on divorce for centuries. What about 12 marriages?
Do we admire what the Nazis did to their prisoners? Are their unspeakable deeds minimized in children’s rides or miniature golf courses?
My relative as a Pirate Prisoner
In the late 1700’s I had a distant relative who was captured by pirates. My genealogist brother researched the story. He was one of 30 that were allowed to live. They were imprisoned and enslaved. The conditions were so harsh that after three years only three were left alive. Thomas Jefferson finally paid his ransom. He was so brutally treated that he was disabled for the rest of his life. He passed away a few years after his ordeal.
Another entire Hanscom family was murdered in a different pirate raid.
Packaging Evil Deeds in Fun
It is my strong feeling that when horrible deeds are packaged and presented in way that minimizes the severity of their effect it has a corrosive effect on who we are as humans. It becomes easier to ignore things around us that are really unacceptable. Verbal abuse would be one of those amongst an infinite list.
What About Raising Kids?
Might this be confusing for children? They are taught to treat those around them with respect yet simultaneously being presented with the idea that being a pirate would be somewhat of the ultimate dream – freedom to do whatever you want to whoever you want without consequences.
Awareness of Suffering
I have become acutely aware of my own suffering and those around me. It was a rough experience that brought me to this awareness. It is now clearer to me how violence mixed with entertainment contributed to my inability to really appreciate the depth of others’ pain.
Seeing Through Others’ Eyes
Chronic pain is real suffering that is endless. Put yourself in the shoes of those poor pirate prisoners and imagine how they must have felt. Consider the suffering of other people around you who are in chronic pain. There are plenty. In the US alone there are 116 million people in chronic pain.
Do you find pirate tales and movies entertaining? I did for most of my life.
The first step of reprogramming your nervous system is awareness. There is nothing noble about pirates or the suffering they inflict. Become aware of how being desensitized to the pain of their victims affects your connection to the suffering of those around you. If we are to evolve issues such as these must be addressed both individually and as a society.