Robin Hood is a legendary heroic outlaw from English folklore. He has been depicted in numerous films, television shows, and literary works. He is portrayed as a highly skilled archer and swordsman who along with his band of marry men steal from the rich and give to the poor. A common theme in the telling of the story of Robin Hood is that he is a champion of the common people fighting against injustice.
I can remember growing up and being told the stories about the heroic Robin Hood. I can remember teachers reading stories to us about him. Disney and Mel Brooks made movies about Him, even Kevin Costner played the iconic hero. No matter if I was reading about him or seeing him in a movie Robin Hood was always portrayed as a hero but is he? When we look deeply into the story of Robin Hood, we find a much more complex story. Robin Hood did fight against the injustices perpetrated on the people by the sheriff of Nottingham. Anytime you have someone fighting injustice that person is going to be looked at as a hero, but as I look deeply into the story of Robin Hood I see some things that I find that to be troubling.
The main issue I have with Robin Hood is the fact that he is the stealing from the rich to give to the poor. When you look at the portrayal of Robin Hood this is always seen as something that is noble and just. Is this truly a noble and, just act? I grew up in Detroit. There were neighborhoods in Detroit where there was a high amount of poverty. Around the city of Detroit were some areas that were very affluent. To the north was the Bloomfield Hills community. To the east was the Grosse Pointe communities consisting of Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Park, and Grosse Pointe Shores. Would it have been okay for me to go into any of these more affluent communities, steal from them and take the stolen goods into the poor areas of Detroit and redistribute them? For most people the answer that question would be no, yet when we look at Robin Hood we consider this to be something noble. The fact is Robin Hood was a thief. I do not think that it is a good idea to prop up theft even if is considered righteous theft by some, it is still theft. Robin hood was taking something that did not belong to him. I do not think that this is a good thing to support.
There is a second reason that I think the way Robin Hood is portrayed as problematic especially in our current times. Let’s looking at the statement steal from the rich and give to the poor one more time. When Robin Hood steals from the rich there is a never any differentiation between good rich people and evil rich people. The major problem here is in the unspoken message, that message is that rich people are bad. This has always been a dangerous message, but it is especially dangerous in our current climate. We live in a time where there is little effort to focus on what unites us, and a great deal of focus on what divides us. We separate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, political ideology, and a social economic status. In our socioeconomic system, we have divided the people into three classes, the poor, the middle class, and the wealthy. In recent times we have gone a little bit further in added another class above the wealthy called the 1%. Regardless of where a person may be economically, the fact is that there are really good and kind of people everywhere. There are also really bad jerks and evil people everywhere. The major difference is in how one has the ability to use power. A good person who is a wealthy has the power and the resources to do good for a lot of people, whereas a good poor person doesn’t have the resources or the power to do as much, although they can still do a great deal of good and have a positive impact on someone’s life. An evil wealthy person has the power and the resources to damage many lives. The evil poor person cannot damage as many lives but can cause a great deal of damage in the lives of a few. The problem was Robin Hood is that it makes it seem that wealthy people are by nature evil. This is not the case, and this is not a lesson that we should be teaching. What we should teach is that no matter what level you have been blessed be willing to be a blessing to others.
The title of this post is, “Is Robin Hood Good”, and I’m going to answer that question this way, Robin Hood had good intentions. I believe that he thought that he was acting honorably, but as the old saying goes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The major lessons of Robin Hood are not good lessons. The major lessons are that theft is all right. It is not. And although this story does not directly say that wealth equals bad the story alludes to it. Let’s not focus on what others have. Let’s focus on what we have and how we can help others with what we have been blessed with.