Chapter 2: A Mother-Son Talk
As I had left Professor Oak's lab, he had encouraged me to go and fight more with my pokemon, once it was healed, so that Anther could grow stronger. I walked to the family farm out on the edge of Pallet Town and went in to see my mom.
"Well, Mom, I've had my first pokemon battle, and I guess I won." I halfheartedly announced when I found her in the house.
"What do you mean 'you guess'?" She inquired.
"Well, the battle was with Regi Locust, and he wasn't paying much attention to the battle. He just spent the whole time yelling at the professor because the pokemon he chose didn't have the attacks he thought it would. I felt kind of bad for his pokemon." I thought for a moment before continuing, "I thought it would feel good to beat him, but I just feel like I hurt his pokemon and he didn't care about it."
"Well Arcus, not everyone feels the same way about pokemon and what their role should be. While you've grown up seeing that pokemon are something that we have to use to make a living, survive, and have food to eat, we treat them with respect. Just because something is part of your job, or something you are going to kill and eat doesn't mean it isn't worthy of your respect. We have a duty to the creatures we care for, and that duty is made greater the more we demand of them. The pidgey we have on this farm, we owe them a good and easy life. We owe it to keep them comfortable, free of fear, and free of pain, because we are going to take their lives or eggs so that we can eat and make a living. It's a harsh thing, and it's easier to pretend that we don't have that debt to the pokemon we depend on. It's easier to say that because we can control them that the responsibility only goes one way. It's easy to think that they owe us their lives, their abilities, and their service while we owe them nothing back. Believing we have responsibilities to pokemon or others who are not like us becomes very complicated very quickly. Some people prefer a simple life and a simple outlook. A simple life means just choosing not to see the terrible things that you are doing to keep your life simple."
She then asked me to call out my pokemon so she could have a look at it and fix up it's wounds, "Well, that is a cute little bulbasaur you have there. Did you give it a nickname?"
"Yeah," I answered, "His name is Anther."
"That is a nice sounding name for a nice pokemon," she thought for a little while before continuing on the prior subject, "Those differences in beliefs are the reasons why your father and I have never gotten on well with Regi's parents. They disagree with us on these and other issues. Remember though, while Regi was rased to believe as his parents do, and you were raised to believe as your father and I do, you both are on the edge of starting to grow up. Soon, it will be up to both of you to decide what you believe and how you will interact with the world. There are people who believe even further than I do. They believe that we have no right to control pokemon or take their lives, be it for food or for battle. That is a very complicated road to walk if you aren't going to be superficial about it. Some say we only have responsibilities to the smarter pokemon, or the cute ones. That seems a little bit arbitrary to me, but it seems to make sense to the people who believe that way."
I watched her making and applying a herbal poultice we used when the pidgey injured each other to the scratches, and giving Anther a few other herbs to chew on. He didn't seem to like the taste, but he chewed them anyways.
"What does this have to do with my battle?" I asked my mother as, being ten, this conversation was a bit deeper than I was used to.
"What it has to do with, is that you don't feel right about your battle because how Regi treated his pokemon went against how you believe people should treat living things." She patted the bandages over the poultice, working it in well, "You feel wrong, because he made you take part in hurting his pokemon for no good reason. Most pokemon like to fight, they gain great satisfaction and become more powerful by doing it. Him not even paying attention or even trying to give orders to his pokemon irks you though. It goes against what you believe people should do."
"Of course people shouldn't do that!" I said, "Even if your pokemon loves to fight, you should pay attention and do your best to do your part to help them win!"
"There comes my other point right there." Anther had swallowed the herbs and mother had began removing the bandages and poultice from the now healed wounds, "That is what you have been raised to believe, and while I definitely believe that is right, (which is why I raised you to believe it), not everyone feels that way. People have different values and beliefs about what is right and wrong. You and Regi are about to go out in the world and experience many things. You will meet other people with wildly different viewpoints. You will see and do things that will challenge your beliefs about the world. Your beliefs will likely change in one way or another. Either of you may change your beliefs completely. He may come closer to our way of thinking, but you just as easily may begin to see the reasons behind his. Either or both of you may adopt entirely new lines of thinking."
"But, how can what I think is right and wrong change?" I asked, now thoroughly confused, "What's good and bad doesn't just change because of what I believe. It's right because it's good and wrong because it's bad."
"I wish it were that simple." Mother sighed as she wiped the last of the medicine off of Anther, who was now wiggling his newly repaired little body, "I do believe that certain things are good or bad whether we believe it or not, but many situations are complicated. There are many situations where doing one thing does certain good things while having certain bad side effects, while doing another does other good things with other side effects. People disagree on what is more important. Depending on what good things someone believes are more important to seek and what bad things someone believes are more important to avoid, it can be very complicated to decide which action to take is the right one."
"What do I do when someone is doing something I think is bad?" I asked, picking up Anther to give him a hug.
"Well, of course the first thing you should do is try to explain to them why what they are doing is wrong. Sometimes people just haven't thought things through or seen things from a certain perspective." My mother sat down as she continued, "Usually though, that won't work and will let the other person know you may try to stop them."
She paused again, clearly thinking through how to explain the next part, "When talking doesn't work though, you have a decision to make and it won't be easy. You have to decide if what they are doing wrong is worth doing what is necessary to make them stop." Mother stopped again, this time to let what she had just said sink in, "There are many cases, depending on what the harm is of what they are doing, where it is better to just disagree and move on. There will be many times you will see wrong things happen, but that you won't have the power to stop it. If you see a person robbing an innocent, trying to stop the robber is definitely a good goal, but there is the question of whether you and your pokemon are strong enough on your own. It helps no one but the robber for you to just get robbed too. You also have to decide, even if you can win, what the cost of winning will be."
My mother looked to make sure I was still paying attention, "If someone is stealing from a glassblower's shop and you fight them there to stop them, even if you can win, if you destroy the shop in the process you have not done anything to help the glassblower."
I nodded that I understood that part and she continued again, "Also, think of the risk to other's safety as well as your pokemon and your own safety. Sometimes going for help is the right thing to do. If there is time, running to get the police can be very effective, especially since stopping people from doing bad things is entirely their job. Also, just getting friends and allies to fight beside you can be very effective for changing things you don't have the power to safely change on your own."
At this point, while Anther was falling asleep on my lap, my mother began to stand up and pace. "However, when you have two or more sides that both believe that the side they are on is worth fighting for, things can spiral quickly. Your father has never been one to be able to just let things he sees as wrong be. That is way he just can't seem to stop going on his journeys. We both had been on our journeys for a while when the last war broke out. By the time it got that big, most people didn't even remember what it was over in the first place. Two sides had fought over something, but they both kept coming back with more and more allies until entire countries were caught up in the fight. When it was that large, it wasn't about anything anymore accept what each side had done fighting the other side. Of all the regions that were involved, Kanto was hit hardest. Your father and I settled here and set up this farm to help rebuild the area, but the region still hasn't recovered. Many people and pokemon died, and many more had their lives forever changed, and really the war was mostly just over whether people could make others do what they thought was right. That is what almost all wars end up being about.
I was sitting, hugging my sleeping bulbasaur, stunned by what my mother was saying.
"I'm definitely not saying that right and wrong are meaningless, or that you shouldn't fight for what you believe in. What I'm trying to say is just that, while you are out in the world I want you to take a good hard look around. I want you to look at the world and find what you think is right, not just what someone else, even me, tells you is right. I want you to find out what you think is right so that, when times come that you have to decide what it is worth risking and doing to fight for what you think is right, you can decide well what to do."
Then there was just silence for a while as I thought over what my mother had said, and she sat back down and began cutting up meat and dough for pidgy-noodle soup. After a few minutes I asked, "Did you talk to Latia and Latio about this all before they left last year?"
"Yes, and I will be telling all of this to your younger siblings too when they leave for the first time."
"What happened in the war?"
"Many things that should never have happened, but all of those bad things have happened before and will happen again until we learn other ways to decide who can tell who what to do." She sighed.
"Do you ever wish Dad would stay home?"
"Sometimes, but really, at this point I'm used to just seeing him in bursts. If he ever came home and didn't leave again I'm not sure what I'd do with him. It helps me enjoy it when he is here to miss him when he's gone. Someday he'll stop going as far and long of journeys, but he'd drive us both crazy if he was stuck at home." She stood up with her cut up meat and noodles, "Now, help me get this finished so we can get you and your siblings fed so you can rest well tonight to get a good start tomorrow."