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Reconciling with Mickey: Choosing Peace over Resentment} ?> Oswald Rabbit understands what it feels like to be forgotten. As a creation of Walt Disney, he starred in cartoons even before Mickey Mouse was a thumbnail sketch. But as the white-gloved rodent grew in popularity, the rabbit faded into obscurity. It’s fitting then, that in the video game Epic Mickey, Oswald lives in a world called the Wasteland, where Walt’s forgotten cartoon characters dwell. They all lack hearts because they no longer exist in human memories (poor things!). While Mickey stars in film after film, Oswald performs for the small crowd of his fellow forgotten cartoons. He feels usurped and bitter against his sketchbook brother for stealing the world’s love from him.
Oswald could have easily been the villain of Epic Mickey. But instead of letting his anger incite him to lash out, he makes the Wasteland into the most pleasant place he can for the other forgotten toons by building them a safe city called Ostown to live in, performing for them at the theater on Mean Street, and protecting them from the Mad Scientists and other monsters. The other characters (and I) admire him for his desire to find good in a depressing place.
However, there is still pain festering inside Oswald. Oswald erects a statue of himself and Walt Disney, similar to the one in front of Cinderella Castle in Disney World (except that one features Disney holding Mickey’s hand, not Oswald’s). He builds a house for Mickey in Ostown, hoping the mouse will be forgotten too and end up living there. Though he’s never unkind to those he considers his friends, he’s bitter when he finally comes face to face with Mickey Mouse in the game.
Similar to Oswald, I often hold resentment against people who’ve caused me pain. I’ve avoided going to stores and restaurants I’ve previous loved because I used to work there and I don’t want to run into the bosses or fellow employees who were unkind to me. I’ve felt so hurt by people, including family, that I react negatively when I see their faces in pictures, catch the sound of their voices, or even hear their names mentioned. I’m ashamed to admit that their opinions matter to me.
In Epic Mickey, Mickey sacrifices his heart to the Blot, a malevolent creature created from paint thinner, to save Oswald from being squeezed to death by the Blot’s giant fist. After the battle is won, Mickey’s heart ends up in Oswald’s hands. Oswald has a choice: keep the heart for himself and leave the Wasteland (replacing Mickey and gaining all the fame for himself), or give the heart back to its rightful owner.
As the scene pans out, conflict rages in Oswald’s eyes. He holds the heart, wavering back and forth on his decision. To make matters more complicated, Mickey had admitted to causing the Thinner Disaster in the first place, which unleashed the Blot on the world. Surely, Oswald would never have made such a stupid mistake. Wouldn’t Oswald be a “better” Mickey? He wants so badly to be remembered again.
But instead of succumbing to his selfish desires, he gives the heart back to Mickey, because he doesn’t want to inflict his pain on someone else.
Sometimes, I want to hurt people the same way they’ve hurt me. I want to lash out at them for not caring, for not thinking well of me, for injuring my self-esteem (whether their actions were purposeful or not). But vengeance is a selfish choice, and it’s not mine to take. Hurting someone else to get what I want won’t make me feel better or mend things in the long run.
Like Oswald, I’ve had to find a way to make peace with the ones who’ve wronged me. Mickey didn’t have bad intentions. He didn’t mean to replace Oswald. When I am willing to attempt reconciliation instead of revenge, I can find that peace. It gets trickier when the other party is uninterested in reconciliation, however. When, unlike Mickey, they won’t acknowledge their actions caused pain, intentionally or not. They may choose to ignore me and never change. How do we reconcile then?
I can’t force someone else to care. I can only try to adjust my own selfish attitude. Others may never understand how much they hurt me and never change, but I want to be like Oswald, combating resentment by putting others before myself. It might be the more difficult path, but I can choose peace over resentment, reconciliation over anger, and joy over hate—even if it means I don’t get a statue modeled after me.