L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a masterpiece. This first and only American fairy tale has grown and evolved.

It has gone through many adaptations and has shown us epic battles of good versus evil, and how a small ragtag group of misfits could do the impossible.

Each character is an archetype to follow and to learn from.

This is my favorite movie and story, and it has always made me feel good; it is a story of morals and could be called a guide for a good life.

It also shows that misfits have the capability to fight wickedness and that they should never be underestimated.

Brain. The first companion Dorothy meets on her way to the Emerald City is the Scarecrow.

He is tall and gangly from a lack of straw in his limbs.

Some of it protrudes from the dirty, white gardener’s gloves that constitute as his hands.

He wears beat-up weathered workers pants and a shirt. His head made of a burlap sack with a painted face held together by the neck with a cord of rope.

To top him off, he wears a black shabby hat with a blunt point on top.

His body is decorated with sewn-in patches. The only thing the scarecrow lacks is a brain.

The brain is our most powerful organ. It retains so much knowledge, yet we cannot use all of it. Bittersweet, if you ask me.

Some of us can use more of it than others, which is a gift that should be cherished.

Some of these people have changed the world for good and some for evil. The brain is our core, our doorway to things unimaginable, and some of us take it for granted.

Some of us waste it or use it to spew ignorance. The brain should be used constructively to help make life better for yourself and for others.

It is important to always remain teachable and to stay away from the ignorant.

Though the Scarecrow thought himself witless, it was he who tricked the fighting trees to give up their apples and it was he who made the plan to sneak into the Wicked Witch’s castle and save Dorothy.

With encouragement from his friends, this bag of straw proved he was just as smart as any genius.

Heart. I have a great affinity for the Tin Man. He is my favorite storybook character, and I loved it when I got to play him in a summer camp production.

He is tall like the Scarecrow, but with skinny, silver limbs held together by tightly fastened bolts.

There is sheen to his tin body, and his face can hold expression, which is usually of a happy nature.

A bowtie made of the same metal sits handsomely on his neck, and a funnel sits on his head, his own version of a hat.

Lastly, he holds a thigh-long ax with such a sharp blade that gleams when light touches its face.

The only thing this man is missing is a heart.

The heart is not just an organ that pumps blood.

It is a universal representation of love. Organs are studied in science and so is love.

We call love chemical, which makes the feelings we feel so impersonal.

I believe love is a force, no different than the tide going back and forth, the white lips of the waves darkening the beige sand.

No different than the breeze going through the trees, the branches creaking as they bend to the wind’s will.

Love is a natural force and to search for that love to fill an empty piece of you, just like the Tin Man and his journey with Dorothy, is what we should do.

The Tin Man didn’t truly need a physical object to show his feelings. He went on that journey with his friends who he was willing to fight for at all cost. That is love.

Courage. The Cowardly Lion is more than just a “scaredy cat.” He is a majestic beast. His coat is a rich golden brown, and a mane of shaggy hair that frames his gentle face.

The lion’s eyes are an emerald green that make the rest of his face look strong.

Cowardice is a poison that affects us in the worst ways. Like a virus, it can grow and evolve, turning fear to hatred and bringing out our most ugly traits.

However, everyone feels cowardice sometimes. Whether it is from peer pressure or letting someone getting picked on while you just sit there—animals feel cowardice as well.

On a positive note, we can condition ourselves to get out of those “negative” feelings. This is where courage comes in.

It is scary to be brave and to fight for what you believe in.

I am sure when people like Fannie Lou Hamer, Gandhi or Queen Elizabeth the first had to fight for what they believed in, they were scared.

Courage isn’t always easy, doing what’s right isn’t easy. But if we stand our ground and look past our fears, we can make great change and inspire others to do the same.

The Cowardly Lion showed his bravery just by going to save Dorothy, even though he was scared. That is true bravery.

Home. The one thing Dorothy wants more than anything is to go back home to Kansas.

If you read the story’s version of Kansas, you would ponder why someone would want to go back to a gray wasteland hit by a tornado instead of a colorful land of singing little people and a place where monkeys can fly—but to each his own, I guess.

Dorothy has wisdom beyond her years and a bravery that protects her from wicked witches —and a house.

She is petite in stature, her hair a reddish brown held together in two pigtails with powder blue bows. Her skin is peach, but her cheeks hold a healthy blush.

She is the farmer’s niece, dressed in a checkered dress of white and powder blue and matching blue socks that rise and ruffle at her shins.

The pièce de résistance are her ruby slippers. The color red warriors want to see in battle. Or if you want to go by the book, silver, like moonlight.

Dorothy believes in the power of home. Home for many is the center of our life.

It is our shield, our protection from dangers of the world. It is where we learn our values and beliefs and where we get our love from and where our family dwells.

Sadly, not everyone has this safe haven. But they should not despair.

Family, despite what others say, is not about blood. Blood is a bodily fluid that keeps you alive; it does not define you.

Home is where you feel love, where you feel safe.

Dorothy was somewhat naive in this respect. The journey with her companions was a kind of home and was her protection. Home also keeps us grounded.

No, I don’t mean when your parents catch you smoking. Even if we are a billionaire or someone world-renowned, many don’t have that lifestyle growing up.

Never forget where you come from is what I am trying to tell you.

Do not forget the people who supported you all your life and helped you evolve. Never lose that connection.

The brain, heart, courage, and home are four principles we should live by. Use your brain and don’t be ignorant. Use your heart to spread love and let love in.

Use courage to fight your fears and remember that you have a home; your rock in a storm of troubling times.

With these tools Dorothy and her friends faced something that everyone faces in reality- wickedness. It takes many forms: bullies, bigots, dictators and in Dorothy’s case, wicked witches.

Wickedness: To see the Wicked Witch of the West riding her broom through the sky, her sharp cackle piercing the air and making a chill ride up an Ozian’s spine.

She is cloaked in midnight black, a perfectly morbid contrast to her goblin-green skin. Her structure is vulture-like and bony, and her hands are like two green spiders with long pointed fingers.

Not all things wicked take such obvious evil forms.

Some wicked people hide behind guises of flawed morality; others let their true wickedness be known and hurt people outright physically or verbally.

There are also times that the wicked isn’t even a person at all.

It could be the toxin that is doubt or fear that we inflict upon ourselves, an inner wickedness similar to cowardice.

A bucket of water isn’t going to make it go away. Wickedness that is either internal or caused by someone else must be dealt with by inner strength.

The principles I have told you are examples of that inner strength.

Wickedness is not a product of reason, nor can it counter the brain, the heart, courage and home.

No matter how hard she tried and no matter how many trials she threw out at Dorothy and her friends (poppies, flying monkeys, and Winkies, not to mention the crows, bees, and wolves in the book), the small group of misfits was able to overcome.

As she melted into the floor, the witch cried, “Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?”

That’s the shortsightedness of wickedness and its greatest weakness.

It never comprehends how strong or how capable someone is and its number one downfall is underestimating even the meekest person.

 

Nick Bundarin can be reached at nbundarin@keene-equinox.com