Front Porch: Taking a lesson from Dorothy and Oz

Published 9:42 am Friday, January 13, 2017

By Lisa Johns

Sun columnist

It might not be Kansas, but I love my city.

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L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz in 1900. The book, which became a series of books written about Oz, a mythical city, helped sustain his family.

While I will admit with a tinge of shame I never read any of the books, I am not the greatest fan of the movie either.  It scares me.

I remember the first time I watched the movie.  First, there is Miss Gulch, the mean lady who takes Toto away. Then Dorothy falls in a pig pen. Finally, a huge cyclone touches down and the house is taken off its foundation only to land atop the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister in the land of Munchkins or the little people.

Magically, the witch’s ruby slippers fit on Dorothy’s feet thanks to Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. She arrives in the Emerald City and meets the Wizard of Oz, a scary figure who sends her out to get the broom of the Wicked Witch.

She is helped along the way by the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. After escaping many obstacles following the Yellow Brick Road, they are ultimately taken prisoner by flying monkeys. (I still cringe when I see them as as adult.). They finally break loose, melt the Wicked Witch with water, and bring the broom back to the Wizard with the promise of a brain, a heart, and courage for her three friends.

As for Dorothy, she just wants to go home. When catastrophe hits and the hot air balloon that was supposed to take Dorothy home floats off without her, she is devastated.

All the adventures, friends, and help she received along the way are nice. Yet, as mundane as feeding pigs, being in her own yard, and being with family seem to some — Dorothy wants to go home.

Glinda surprises her by explaining that she could have always gone home. “You had the power all along. You had to find it for yourself.”

I believe The Wizard of Oz is an allegory of our lives. We have a family. We have a community. We have a town that continues to grow and prosper and offers a promise of greater things to come.

We are often faced with individuals who want to shatter our dreams, take us prisoner, and pour water on the embers of change.

Like a cyclone, we become influenced by these “flying monkeys.” It is only because of bravery, brains and a big heart that things can get done.  We have to have believers, friends, and community to support our causes, our dreams, and our little Munchkin world for the hopes of spreading change to a bigger world.

We have to be the good witch. We have to be the force that offers a calming voice and to provide opportunities to make shoes fit everyone no matter who they are or where they live or used to live.

No, this isn’t Kansas. But like Dorothy, we have to believe change is good.

Yes, two roads always come up in our lives. We can choose the yellow brick road and travel to places to places to shop, eat and create that are supposedly better. Or we can choose the road to home like Dorothy and realize that everything we ever need is in our own backyard — or will be if we believe.

There is no place like home.

Lisa Johns is a former teacher and librarian as well as an activist on revitalizing downtown Winchester.