For most of my life, Johnny Lawrence was a bad guy. The student leader of the Cobra Kai dojo in 1984’s The Karate Kid was my generation’s bully prototype. But that all changed last year when YouTube produced a continuation of the franchise centered on Johnny called Cobra Kai. The show is far from great (I skim through several sections in each episode), but I keep watching because I’ve been impressed with how the writers managed to cast Johnny in an entirely different light.
The show depicts an older Johnny as he scrapes up enough cash to reopen his old dojo. Just as he begins to have some success, Daniel Larusso – now a successful business owner – becomes a bully to Johnny, using his fame and influence to smash the upstart business before it can take root in the community.
After only two episodes, I found myself rooting for Johnny and his new Cobras against Daniel, and Daniel’s thoroughly unlikable new protege.
We get a glimpse into Johnny’s backstory — his abusive father, and a terrible home life that drove him into the waiting arms of a bad teacher. We learn how his sensei’s distorted philosophy tainted Johnny’s adult relationships, and of his struggles with alcoholism, and eventually how he became an estranged father himself.
The show reinforces one of the chief principles of Daniel’s mentor, Mr. Miyagi: There are no bad students, only bad teachers.
I don’t ascribe to that principle in full (I’ve known plenty of bad students), but Miyagi was on to something. Take bad information, feed it to others, filter out critical details, and voilà: You’ve just produced some bad guys. Is this how it happens? Is this how it happened to me?
I wasn’t taught a particular standard of morality beyond the oft-cited Golden Rule. I thought I had a pretty good handle on right and wrong concerning the things that mattered: Don’t lie, don’t cheat, and don’t disfigure your fourth-grade classmate’s Cabbage Patch Doll. On other topics, I was taught that truth depends greatly on a person’s point of view.
As I got older, I drifted farther from the moral relativism of my early teachers and came up hard against the submerged reef of moral absolutes, chief among them being that human life at every stage is valuable. It was a truth personified in the beautiful but lifeless body of my second child, who died of an infection-induced miscarriage at nine weeks gestation, as he lay peacefully in a plastic tray I held, crying in the emergency room.
I don’t recall ever defending abortion. I believe my opinion before that was similar to many Americans; I didn’t think it was any of my business. I wasn’t familiar with abortion, only marginally understood it, and had certainly never studied it. What I knew was learned in abstract on fictional TV shows, and second-hand from abortion rights activists while studying other topics. They had plenty of arguments, but their main one seemed to be centered around the notion that abortion was justifiable due to a scientific rationale that a fetus is something other than a human being.
I accepted that and went on with my life. It wasn’t any of my business until that day in the ER, after seeing a child nine weeks after conception.
Some issues are not important to us until we experience them with our own eyes. Prior to that day, I took the rhetoric I was taught at face value. They said abortion was not the killing of a child, now I knew they were either lying or uninformed. I don’t disparage people for buying into the lessons of bad teachers. Abortion clinics are full of people working under the false pretense that what they are perpetuating is helping women. This may very well be the biggest, most deadly lie ever taught in the history of our nation. The people who believe the lie and act out of that assumption are not the bad guys.
As their experience within the industry increases, they often become horrified, and many have become pro-life activists. I commend them for their willingness to admit their mistake, and applaud their passion for telling their tales, exposing what so many powerful people are trying to cover up.
But there are others.
My sympathy ends for those who know full well that children are daily being killed for profit. These people have a number of arguments to justify their position, all of them false, and there is one group within the abortion fraternity that is completely aware of what abortion is, and entirely honest about their motivations for partaking in it — abortion doctors.
Somewhere on earth, there may be a doctor performing abortions for free, as a twisted form of “public service,” but I’ve never heard of one. I do know, however, that abortion clinics make anywhere from $300- $10,000 for each child, not counting the well-documented and illegal sale of their harvested organs and body parts. Murder has always been lucrative. They are also perfectly aware they are killing a human being. They have to be.
In order to kill something effectively you need to understand it. Hunters know how to kill the animals they seek, exterminators know what kills any given bug, botanists know what will kill a plant, or a pest, and abortion doctors know the best method for killing a child at each unique stage.
Do you know what these tools are used for?
If you don’t, I suggest it’s time to do some research. Or you can simply watch this doctor who has performed over 1,600 abortions describe the procedure:
Many people are taught that abortion is justified, or an unfortunate necessity. I suspect most people who believe that were never told how the tools are used, or what the procedure entails, or what the “products of conception” look like before they are discarded. If you’ve never seen it and you still defend it, you better be willing to click here. But make sure you don’t have any children sitting next to you, because it’s more terrifying than any horror movie, and those images will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Did you look?
If you’re not willing to face what you’re defending, then it’s time to rethink your position. No shame, but you need to rethink the lessons you’ve believed, even if you’ve believed them your entire life. Bad teachers perpetuate false doctrine, expecting their students to accept it without question. Is that you? Or are you willing to look the issue head on?
Good teachers equip their students to ask hard questions, to examine the facts, and embrace a culture of continuing education. They understand that eventually students will be on their own, and they will need firm principles to fall back on.
Near the end of Season One of Cobra Kai, Johnny recognizes his student Miguel copying the mistakes of Johnny’s past. Johnny realized his mentor was wrong and he was forced to reconcile with the fact that he’d bought into a lie, and that he needed to admit his errors.
“Maybe I’m learning new lessons myself,” Johnny tells Miguel. “You have the potential to be better than I ever was.”
Good teachers expect to be challenged and to grow with the knowledge of experience. The good guys are aware they don’t know it all, and would rather admit to being foolish than continue being wrong.
The bad guys are the ones who don’t care.