Do you want to know why your mother and I are happy? We gave up on our dreams and settled. It’s great to have dreams, as long as you don’t believe in them too much. ~The father of Judy Hopps
It’s not easy being a dreamer.
Are you a dreamer? An idealist? Do you long for Utopia, a heaven on earth where perfect peace and justice reign? Where the house is always clean, the kids are always kind and everyone is always happy with you?
I have a special place in my heart for dreamers, probably because I am one. While I am usually frustrated with anything less than the ideal, it’s often that frustration that motivates me to stand up and make a difference in the world. I see potential everywhere. Nothing and no one is without hope. Until my world crushes in on me and I stop believing in dreams. Sometimes it’s easier to choose being happy over making a difference.
Judy Hopps, the main character in Disney’s Zootopia, is an idealist; a dreamer who believes that predator and prey can live in harmony. She is a bunny determined to move from her little agricultural town to the city of Zootopia where she intends to be a cop and make the world a better place. But the crushing reality of city life threatens to hold her back from realizing her dreams. Judy determines to prove herself to the skeptics and nearly loses herself along the way. It is Judy’s unlikely friendship with a fox that transforms the bunny from a naïve dreamer into a sophisticated visionary.
But Judy is not the only dreamer represented in the animated film. She learns that the sly fox she coerces into helping her solve a case was not always the scoundral he seems to be. Nick gives Judy a glimpse into his backstory as young fox who is unfairly labled as a predator that can’t be trusted. In that moment he decides he won’t let anyone get to him, and that if the world sees him as a shifty fox, there isn’t any point in being anything else. Nick is a dreamer until his dreams are crushed. But when Judy hears his story and believes in him, Nick realizes that he isn’t stuck in the expectations of others, after all.
Zootopia masterfully illustrates some of the difficulties idealists face and the factors that make a difference in how we respond to them. Here are 4 discussion questions to use with a dreamer in your life.
1. What did Judy think about Nick the fox when she first realized he lied to her? What did she think about him after he shared his story about being muzzeled and made fun of as a young fox?
- Everyone has a story. If we take the time to learn other people’s stories, we may find ourselves feeling compassion for those who hurt us.
2. Why did Nick get upset with Judy after the press conference? What was she trying to prove?
- If we let our need to prove ourselves become our primary goal, we might say and do things that could hurt others like Judy does at the press conference.
3. What do Judy’s parents say when she comes home and asks, “Why did I think I could make a difference?”
- They tell her it’s because she’s a try-er and she’s always been a try-er. Dreamers who dream don’t change the world. Dreamers who try, do. That’s why we keep on trying even when we don’t succeed.
4. Which characterization will we choose for ourselves when our idealism is met with the crushing reality of life?
- Judy at the beginning: The naïve dreamer who can’t connect with others because they refuse to acknowledge the complex reality of pain and conflict?
- Nick the fox: The bitter skeptic who gives up on others at the slightest offense?
- *The master manipulator who uses others to accomplish a false ideal?
- Judy at the end: The effective visionary who serves others freely because she has nothing to prove?
Here’s to the dreamers who try!
* I omitted the name of this character so I wouldn’t spoil the movie for you! You’ll know when you see it.