Family Law

Charles Ahlstrom, Esq.
Sage Law Partners


There is something about the story of the new kid struggling to fit in and failing to deal with the bullies in a meaningful way. Daniel finds a mentor in the most unlikely place—the apartment maintenance man. The evolution of friendship as Daniel realizes that he is learning more than he originally thought. And the final conflict, where the hero wins despite overwhelming odds and cheating adversaries. Even now, I still want to stand and cheer with the rest of the crowd when Daniel wins the tournament (although I also feel more compassion for Johnny, who gets his nose plastered all over the back of his skull).

What an epic movie! And it taps into all my nostalgia for the 80’s and those “simpler times” from my life. I have used the “wax on, wax off ” montage from the film to teach my own children about mentoring, and how life’s experiences often teach us more than we realize once we can gain some perspective.

So, it is no surprise that when I came across an article about The Karate Kid during my Facebook scroll on Wednesday that I took the time to read it: kai-1849667288. The article is a discussion about how Elisabeth Shue’s character, Ali, does not appear in the second move and is dismissed with a simple comment on how she ran off with a college guy. In the article, Ralph Macchio says this about Elisabeth Shue’s absence from the subsequent films: “I never looked at it from the perspective of Ali’s character or from the perspective of Elisabeth as an actor” (emphasis added).

In so many aspects of life, we do not take the time to make this introspective inquiry. We see the world through our own lens, consider good and bad based on how it impacts us, and do not take time to walk in someone else’s shoes. It caused me to reflect on my own ideas of equal versus equitable, and how my own experience and perception may influence my notions of what is fair. I did not expect to find such an existential moment in a little article about actors in a nostalgic movie. I wonder what the world would be like if we all took some time to look at situations from the perspective of another person. How many conflicts could be resolved; how many could be prevented? How many marriages could be saved? How many divorces would be less contentious? How many children wouldn’t be forced to choose between parents? And looking beyond my own professionally narrowed point of view, how many of the racial, economic, religious, and political fights could be mitigated by this one simple step of considering life from another person’s perspective?

Congratulations, Karate Kid. After almost 40 years, you still continue to teach me.

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