The family hides behind some gravestones in the Abbey graveyard. The Reverend Mother has hidden the von Trapps from Herr Zeller. He and his troops storm the Abby in search of the family attempting to escape Hitler’s Germany. Since the borders have been closed by the new regime, the family has decided to escape the country and cross the dangerous Swiss alps with only a few belongings.
It’s hard for people today to imagine living in Nazi Germany only a few decades ago, but for the vonn Trapp family it was very real, and very terrifying. The Sound of Music, the top grossing film of all time in the 1960’s was, on its surface, about a charming singing family, but its deeper meaning is about family dynamics. Strength through adversity, understanding and forgiveness. One of the more humorous quotes from the movie is when Captain von Trapp gives an opinion on Maria’s ugly dress:
“It’s the dress. You'll have to put on another one before you meet the children.
Maria: But I don't have another one. When we entered the Abbey, our worldly clothes were given to the poor.
Captain von Trapp: What about this one?
Maria: The poor didn't want this one.
Several attempts to set fans straight about the “real story behind the sound of music” exist, but what the secular world does not understand is that none of us ever gets family completely right. Of course the von Trapps had problems, but that is not the point of the musical. Truth be told, family life is messy and complicated with so many personalities and egos, it’s important to note that the main secret to familial success is allowing people to grow and learn. From seven to seventy, each needs forgiveness and understanding.
Strong families are the greatest threat to totalitarians because they are the cornerstone to strong countries. Adolf’s Youth were ordered to report on their families with the passing of a Malicious Attacks law against the Government law. Confused by which authority to follow, children often turned their parents in.
In Soviet society, psychological pressure was exerted on children and family members. Even the children of top officials became pariahs overnight, and got moved from luxurious apartments to orphanages. And in Communist China from 1966-1976, Mao Zedong declared war on the “Four Olds”: Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Customs. He created the “Red Guard,” made up of students as young as pre-adolescents to torture, murder and have imprisoned anyone wearing “bourgeois clothing.” They also targeted their own parents for destruction.
Yes, it’s true, the Sound of Music movie portrays a perfect family. Spoiler alert… they were not a perfect family, because none of us ever gets it perfect. Family is loud and messy and the ones that get it right understand that the main ingredient as the family grows through new marriages and births is forgiveness. Forgiveness and understanding allows a family to remain strong against the inevitable onslaught from outside forces.
Recently, my daughter gave birth to twins, and in no time at all, I was surrounded in the room by her husband’s side of the family. Like a scene out of my Big Fat Greek Wedding I was frustrated and felt that urge to criticize those who talked too much about themselves, wore goofy clothes, talked too much, and spent too much time holding one of the twins. But I thought better of it, and stopped because I am sure I was unwittingly annoying to one of them. Forgiveness is an essential part of strong, healthy relationships. It allows us to overcome anger, feelings of resentment. Or a desire to get even with a person who has irked us.
If we are going to build strong countries, we must understand that it starts with building strong families. Author G.K Chesterton said, the most extraordinary thing in the world is the ordinary family!