My wife and I have a Saturday routine of watching part of a cartoon during our breakfast (who says Saturday morning cartoons are only for kids?).
This past weekend, the classic Disney film Pinocchio was our cartoon of choice.
Watching this story once again, I couldn’t help but consider the image of Geppetto, Figaro (the cat), and Cleo (the goldfish) getting swallowed by the enormous whale, Monstro. It took me instantly to one other famous character getting swallowed by such a huge fish: Jonah.
But there’s an interesting difference in their two stories. For Jonah, his hesitance to do what God was asking of him sent him on a path of running from God, only to get caught in a storm, tossed overboard, and then swallowed by the great fish.
In Pinocchio, it’s his waywardness–as he forewent going to school in order to be an actor and then a miscreant on Pleasure Island–that places his “family” in trouble: getting swallowed by Monstro while trying to search for him.
For Jonah, his disobedience leads to personal consequences. For Pinocchio, his disobedience jeopardizes the lives of those who love him.
They are an interesting counterbalance to one another. Jonah did endanger the lives of others (the sailors on the ship that was taking him to Tarshish), but realizing his guilt, he faced the consequences of his disobedience that they might be spared.
Pinocchio, on the other hand, lived in ignorance–only discovering the fate of his family as a result of a mystical letter that came down from the heavens when he found his house empty. From then, he resolves to undertake the perilous quest of seeking out Monstro and rescuing them…exhibiting the bravery and self-sacrifice which would eventually result in him becoming a real boy.
The lesson I see here is in realizing the ripples of consequence that result from our actions. We don’t only hurt or endanger ourselves in our choices. We may be risking the lives of others, thoughtlessly, unintentionally.
And we may need a heavenly letter to point these things out to us, to get us back on the right track, to be the human being that we were intended to be.
Thankfully, such a letter is available to us.