Mrs. Banks, she’s a warrior. A feminist. She comes into the home, yelling, screaming. Proud, strong, so happy.
She gathers her women around her. Cries out in a strong voice, “Womankind arise!”
With all her heart, she fights for her cause. An arrest is seen as a victory. The more conflict, the better. Feminism, equal rights for women, it is her source of strength.
But then, the poor woman, she finds out her children are gone. Ran away. And she hears her husband coming home. She calls to her servants, asking them to hide any hint of her warrior-ness (“You know how the cause infuriates Mr. Banks!”).
Oh, Winifred… what happened?
We’re surrounded by people like Mrs. Banks these days. Yellers, I like to call ’em. Some people call ’em fanatics.
They call themselves Tea Partiers. Liberals. Conservatives. Anarchists. Feminists. Religious.
But there is one thing that they have in common. They like to yell. Whether they’re at a rally, writing blogs, or getting arrested, they love yelling.
There’s another warrior, another feminist in this movie, although we might not realize it at first. I’ll give you a hint: she’s a nanny. She likes to fly using an umbrella. Jump into chalk drawings.
Mary Poppins, she may not seem like our ideal feminist. After all, she’s a nanny. She spends her days in a menial job taking care of two troublesome kids. Sure, she’s got all that magic, but what good is it if she doesn’t go to rallies? If she doesn’t yell?
After all, we’re used to thinking that to be a strong woman means to be as angry, as foolhardy as many of the men that run our world today. We think being a strong woman means being a Mr. Banks.
No, strength is an internal thing. Something that comes from the most internal thing: a connection to G-d. To the True Soul.
Mary Poppins, she has the most “practically perfect” connection of anyone in the movie. Her connection is completely internal. It does not depend on externalities, like fighting for this or that political cause. It does not depend on the approval of others, even the ones closest to her.
And that is why her strength is endless. It is why she can stand up to a man that is about to fire her, and even use the moment to help him connect with his own soul (“Tomorrow, just as you suggest…”). It is why she does not allow any man to control her, whether it be her boss, sweet-talking Bert (“You’d never think of pressing your advantage”) or even that awesome guy who “loves to laugh”.
And it is with that amazing strength that she can change the world more than any yeller ever will. She transforms an entire family from a dysfunctional mess into what they were meant to be. A family full of love. A family connected, both to each other and deep, deep within. And because of that, a family with true strength.