I recently went to see the Jungle Book movie, a story particularly close to my heart because of my scouting and personal experiences. I was a Bagheera as a Cub Assistant Leader a few moons ago (something like 20 years ago!), became an Akela recently, but did not have the time to settle into that role as we moved abroad. My father-in-law was a Baloo, and a great Baloo too! My children have been in Scouts and know all about the story. My youngest loves animals and calls the woods here, the jungle. For his first experience at the cinema, we were in for a treat!
The movie made me think of different parallels associated to moving to a new country. First, the jungle of the Jungle Book reflects in many aspects what it feels like to experience all the adventures of a new country, some happy, exciting and some more difficult and challenging. Second, many themes related to global migration are presented in this story:
- leaving home
- leaving loved ones behind
- feeling different in a dominant culture
- being ‘adopted’ in a different culture
- using different skills and strategies to survive and live
- meeting a number of different people on route
- meeting people who become special friends
- needing to judge people who are friends from the ones who can hurt you
- needing to fight for oneself and protect others
- respecting culture and values in a fight
- being part of a team
Third, each character also has a different way to approach adventures and jungle. These different ways of being in the jungle also have great resonance in how one may approach adventures in a new country and this is what grabbed my attention…I make some analogies here, there may be a number of others…
Mowgli is a keen adventurer. Initially naive about the dangers of the jungle, he encounters a number of hurdles that could have cost him his life, but he perseveres, carries on, finds his way. He uses skills, strategies, speed, finesse to deal with these adventures. He succeeds in putting his ideas across to build more advanced methods of food hunting. He is reliable and loyal to his friends and those protecting him. He develops close friendships and uses teamwork to fight against violence.
Bagheera, a great protector and a coach. Firm, he accompanies others closely, warns of dangers, allows reflections of one’s skills as well as strategies as to how to approach adventures. Although, he gives specific advice, he gives space to others to develop one’s own experiences. He is there in the distance and always comes back to protect. He is observant and strategic when dealing with tricky situations. After observing one’s skills, effort and hard work, he respects it. He allows one to fight with his own strengths. He is loyal and respectful of others as well as appreciative of one’s presence and skills. Although, he appears more a solitary character initially, he builds confidence in others’ skills and works as a team.
An easy going character, living life to the full, Baloo delegates chores he feels he cannot do/does not want to do, the bare necessity, a minimum effort as we say in our house! His humour and easy way of life helps in finding a happy and secure environment in the jungle. Spending time, sharing and building strategies with others aiming to meet primary needs are his main activities in the jungle. Life seems simple and happy around Baloo. He finds great companionship. His determination to overcome his own difficulties allows him to defend a friend. Although, he is seen to ask everyone favours initially, he works as a team to fight.
Akela is the leader, the head of the pack, protector, fights for the pack which costs him his life. Although, surrounded by a team (the council), there is a sense that he must remain strong and take the ultimate decisions alone. He insists that one should fight with the skills Akela taught.
Shere Khan has ultimately developed some maladaptive behaviour to deal with an earlier experience. He is relentlessly trying to deal with what he believes is an earlier mistake, but many will fight against. He is disruptive, frustrated, aggressive, difficult and manipulative. His ultimate goal is to destroy.
Kaa appears amicable at first, but manipulates others with her charming powers. She takes a long and enlacing approach to talking to someone, being convincing that one must be on her team and respect her, but ultimately perceives one has a prey.
Raksha, a mother figure, protective of her ‘children’, loving and attentive, she lets one go for safety, adventures and self-discovery. Although devastated, she understands that it is now the time and that she has given her ‘child’ all a ‘child’ needs to explore the jungle and survive. She recognises skills and strengths in others and believes in one’s skills and strengths. Although worried, she appears to have a positive sense of future…’everything will be alright’.
King Louie is a firm, powerful character. He has built a huge empire where many people live around him and defend him. He hides in a huge castle/kingdom. When he decides to be part of the battle, he destroys all his kingdom and everything else in his passage.
So, when going in the jungle of adventures such as moving abroad, which character are you? What skills do you need for moving abroad? What approach works best?
Well, my husband is definitely a Mowgli! I was surprised at Bagheera’s role in accompanying Mowgli and particularly connected again with this character. The movie reminded of a Raksha I volunteered with, who played a great mother role in the pack. I particularly related to this role, now being a mother of three. I suppose skills, strengths and attitudes evolve over time…there may be a need to be more than one characters along the way! As per skills and the best approach, I will let you reflect on this!
Some fascinating analogies, no wonder Baden-Powell asked Kipling to use his story for the Cub Scouts…a great story for all sort of global migration adventures!