Vol. 6, No. 1 April 2002
 Teaching our children the importance of community is a difficult task. Rather than affirming the value of our diverse cultures, races and creeds, we adults tend to separate ourselves into increasingly isolated and hostile groups. Fueled by fear and supported by prejudice, these groups enter into wars and rumors of wars while our children watch and learn. Though our artists recognize this condition, most films only fuel the violence and depersonalize love. Thankfully, this is not true of Carlos Saldanha and Chris Wedge's computer-animated Ice Age.
 Set within an ancient mythical world where humans cannot talk but now-extinct animals can, Ice Age tells a story of love creating community. This unlikely unity is begun when a grieving mammoth named Manfred (voice by Ray Romano) heads North instead of South when his fellow mammoths migrate for the winter. Depressed and angry, Manfred is soon adopted by an obnoxious sloth named Sid (voice by John Leguizamo) who needs Manfred's protection in their cold and hostile world. But the relationship is anything but loving. They need a purpose larger than themselves to bring them together.
 This purpose comes when a dying mother places her infant son in their care. Having been attacked by a vengeful band of saber-tooth tigers, the baby is in need of protection and care. Choosing to care for him and reunite the child with his "tribe" becomes a powerful uniting force.
 This is often the case in our care of children. Looking to the future and recognizing that we desire a better world for these little ones, we realize we need to overcome our differences and unite in this larger purpose.
 But into this world, evil often comes to deceive us. In Manfred's and Sid's lives, it comes in the form of Diego (voice by Denis Leary), a calculating saber-tooth who sets out to lead them into an ambush by his band of tigers. What happens along the way is a story of spiritual dimensions: they become a sacrificially loving community. In a moment of danger, Manfred risks his life for Diego and explains simply, "That's what one does for the herd."
 This sacrificial act of laying down their lives for one another is the truth upon which biblical teaching rests. The errant belief that peace can come through calculated self-interest and reciprocal cooperation is impotent in the face of evil. Only sacrificial love and the willingness to give ourselves for each other is a force powerful enough to turn evil around.
 Endemic to the struggle to make a future for our children is the necessity to make a community of our diversity. If we do not learn that lesson as children and practice it as adults, then an empty future awaits us all.
by Journal of Religion and Film 2001
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