“To be my own master… such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.”
– The Genie, Aladdin
The Genie, portrayed by Robin Williams, is easily one of the most beloved characters in Disney history. He’s funny, useful, almost always right, and there’s an emotional depth and sincerity to him one can’t help but love. He also has a most human desire, a longing to be free of all servitude. In all the thousands of years he’s lived, with all the masters he’s had, he had been a slave for all of it, and not one person ever considered him equal enough to ask, “What would you wish for?” Not until Aladdin, that is, the street rat who became his final master.
Aladdin himself has known poverty and struggle, while Jasmine has had every aspect of her life governed for her, but neither has ever been a slave. Neither has ever been completely without freedom of his or her own. Small wonder the Genie is so funny, because slavery is the crucifixion of the soul, and laughter is often the best medicine.
The joy the Genie feels when he is finally free is understandably overwhelming. However long the Genie lives, he will never forget the man who freed him. Heh, I have heard that the original plan for the movie’s ending was to reveal the peddler telling the story at the beginning to be the Genie in disguise. That would certainly fit, him telling Aladdin’s story for the rest of his life, so people remember him forever.
Freedom is the greatest treasure we can ever know, and to be free is to be one’s own master. It does necessitate mastering oneself, of course, but, even more, it demands a highg price to obtain it and to keep it. That’s why I’m sharing this quote right before July 4th, the anniversary of my nation’s birth. The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the Constitution, the United States of America… it all has its root in this simple desire, no, the simple right that each human has to be his or her own master. All the more tragic that I find my nation having strayed so far from this, but that goes into politics, which I prefer to keep off my blog.
For now, I just want to say Happy Birthday to America, Land of the Free.