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Whenever I speak, people normally look at me, nod their heads and marvel at my words of wisdom. I usually feel pleased until they burst my bubble with the question, ” You grow wid yuh Granny?” I usually wonder if they deem it impossible for a young person to reason in such a manner or maybe I just know a little too much about tradition.

My grandmother always used the adage that a coward man keeps sound bones, hinting to me that the adventurous and brave types are the ones prone to hurt. However, I find many fallacies in some of these proverbs and even in the way tradition allows us to think and behave. I often think, if a man is coward and not willing to speak up for himself, he will miss opportunities and people (especially in this society) will take advantage of him- breaking ( if they were the ones in his  body) and taking ( if they were beef bones for Saturday Soup) his bones as they know there will be no resistance or assertion. It is kinda ironic, as most Jamaican children grew up hearing this saying and whilst most are brave to do wrong and other activities that are of little impact, they are often coward to be advocates for themselves – to challenge tradition.

The movie Brave highlighted some key points that some persons may have missed… and just in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, here they are:

1. Breaking Customs Aren’t Always Bad– In the movie, the custom was one where arranged marriages were practiced and the father chose the best from other clans. The shocking truth was that the suitors neither had it in the waist or the face. Whist they were unattractive, they were unable to do the tasks well, even though they were trained. According to custom, girls weren’t allowed to do such rough activities and still Merida’s father broke that aspect of custom and raised an exceptional archer who outdid all her suitors. Therefore, she wasn’t impressed by any of them and sometimes customs will lead us to settle for less and even live a life of unhappiness.

2. What Is Done In Darkness, Will Soon Come to Light– Um… hello… not true! Ever heard of secrets? It’s what people do and never reveal- sometimes only to a select few or they take it to their graves. The truth is that oftentimes, the truth normally reveals itself. When Merida was having problems with Queen Elinor she hid it and often dealt with her problems through rebellion. It was after she did something drastic that they were brought  together and the root cause was the problem was addressed.

3. Occam’s Razor? Occam’s razor is a Psychological principle that states that when there are competing ideas, the simplest one is usually correct. Sometimes, the simpler ones aren’t traditional and are often ignored but sometimes the traditional ones are cruel and cause more problems. Where I am from, I have heard many old persons tell parents to put the fingers of kids who steal in fire, hot water etc…. Seriously. In Merida’s case, she wanted her mother to realize how she felt and the traditional way was to see a witch. This yielded drastic effects as her mother and brothers were turned into bears- the animal their father most hated and always ready to kill. In the end, simply talking to her mother or using other simple strategies to advocate for herself would have been better options.

4. Curiosity Doesn’t Always Kill the Cat-  When Merida told her dad Fergus that she had seen some will-o-the-wisps, he laughed and told her those were myths. Sometimes in life we will have dreams and sometimes even see a grand idea in things people oftentimes discount. Like Merida, sometimes you have to be brave and believe in yourself, follow those dreams and in the end they could be the solution to your deepest problems. These wisps could be thoughts and it’s through internalization that we are able to tackle live’s biggest Demons, like Merdu.

5. Silence Is Golden- I remember hearing these words as a child and summed it up to something adults say to make me shut up, however, the truth couldn’t have been put more sweetly. After Merida went to the witch and her Mother was transformed into a bear- words could no longer be used to communicate. This caused her to freak, as almost in every society words are overrated. In such a delicate situation, her mother’s words became roars which endangered her life. Sometimes, words can be distracting and doesn’t amount much in some situations. It is the simple things we do which effect change and allows us to think and thus make better decisions and directions. 

Think about it, in times of stress or whenever people challenge our beliefs and traditions we often get defensive and emotional and make rash decisions. Merida showed us that it is in these situations that we must remain calm and stand up for what we believe in… especially if guarantees our happiness and our sanity.

As we approach a new year, think about it…. What customs, traditions or beliefs have you been holding on to that are holding you back?

Like Merida, think, imagine, act and…..Be Brave for a Better You!