“Master Yoda, Is The Dark Side Stronger?”

*There are a ton of spoilers about Star Wars in this post.  If you haven’t seen Star Wars, you’ve got bigger problems than spoilers, but I thought I’d give you fair warning.  And if you haven’t seen them, watch them immediately.

th-1A friend of mine is being bullied.  Yes, adults can be bullied.

I’ve never met the bully, but from what my friend (who I’ll call Ash) tells me, the person is a really awful human being.  The therapist in me says the bully must have suffered terribly in their life.  The friend in me just wants to slap the crap out of them.

My husband and I recently decided to rewatch Star Wars.  We like to do this once a year because they’re awesome movies, but we were probably inspired by the trailer for Episode VII.  If you haven’t seen it, click here.

In any case, Luke asks a question in Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes back that has always bothered me.  He asks, “Master Yoda, is the dark side stronger?”  And Yoda answers, “No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”  In my mind, Yoda never explains what makes the light side stronger, and it doesn’t seem stronger.  Yoda, the most powerful Jedi in the movies, is beaten by the Emperor in Episode III and forced into hiding.  The Emperor would have beaten Luke in the final showdown in Episode VI, had Darth Vader not intervened.

I’ve thought a lot about this as Ash talks about being bullied.  Ash has information that could really hurt the bully, but has hesitated to use it because Ash is a good person.  The bully has lied about Ash and turned some of Ash’s friends against him.  Now, we all know that friends who turn so easily with lies weren’t really friends to begin with, but it still hurts.  Ash has started to wonder if getting revenge would be a good thing.  After all, this bully seems powerful, and why not meet fire with fire?

I know revenge is a bad thing, and going down the same path as someone who hurts others is a bad thing, but there are times when it seems “right.”  Probably because it’s quicker and easier, and even more, it’s seductive.  Getting revenge on others seems “fair.”  Maybe it even is fair, but fair doesn’t make it right.

I asked myself why the dark side isn’t stronger.  It seems stronger; the Emperor won against everyone who went up against him.  He won against Yoda by sheer force, and he beat Anakin by seducing him into becoming Darth Vader.  To answer the question, I thought about why Luke “won” against the Emperor.  Darth Vader says that Luke can defeat the Emperor, that the Emperor had “foreseen it.”  But Luke is nowhere near powerful enough to beat him.  In fact, in Episode VI, it’s not even much of a fight.  But then the answer was so simple that when I saw it, I felt silly.

Luke won because of love and faith.

His faith in his father was so strong that he went up against the biggest bad guy of all time, knowing that he couldn’t win by force.  He had faith that there was still good in Darth Vader, and nothing shook him of that faith, not even the Emperor almost killing him in front of Vader.

But then I wondered about Anakin.  He turned to the Dark Side because of love, didn’t he?  Because of his fear for Padme.

Yes.  And no.

You see, Anakin’s love for Padme was a selfish love, possessive and consuming.  Not only that, but the Emperor was able to seduce him because Anakin was convinced that he wasn’t getting a fair deal, and he wanted more more more than he was being given by the other Jedi.  He got a seat on the council, the youngest council member ever, but was pissed that they wouldn’t give him the title of Master.  Nothing was enough for him, and he was willing to hurt anyone in order to get what he wanted.  So it wasn’t love that changed Anakin; it was power and a quicker and easier path to more of it.  Love was an excuse to do what he really wanted to do anyway.

Perhaps in brute force, the dark side is stronger, but the light side will always have a trump card, and that is love (in the form of selflessness) and faith.  That is why the Emperor lost.  And that’s why evil will always lose.

And that is why, in the face of bullies, we should never stoop to their level.  I’d rather lose friends than pieces of myself.

Because the dark side may win many battles, but if the light side stays true, it will always win the war.

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I laugh sometimes when I watch movies, and the disclaimer comes up at the end that any resemblance to real people is unintentional.

I think that most writers are inspired by true events at some level.  I walk in the mall and see someone dressed in a certain way and think, “Hmm, I wonder if…”  I read the news and think “What if they…?”  A story grows from that tiny seed.  I’m not a visual person, so when I describe characters, I use other people as models, mostly actors and actresses, but still…

I starting thinking about this after the recent controversy between Stephen King and the BTK killer’s family.  The BTK killer’s daughter was angry by what she saw as exploitation by Stephen King in being “inspired” by those events.  He responded and explained that his recent movie, “A Good Marriage,” was inspired the the events, but that the story isn’t about the killer; it’s about a “brave and determined woman.

I can’t even begin to imagine what the BTK killer’s family went through, but I do understand that drive to understand.  Most people avoid what scares them, but writers will often get inside things that scare them, that seem foreign or alien, and ask questions, make assumptions.  In the best stories, the characters drive the story, and most of the time, they go unexpected places and get there in unexpected ways.

I have a story that I’m currently working on, and the story was inspired by a PostSecret.  The story was meant to be a short story (under 2,500 words), but because the characters wouldn’t allow their story to be told that quickly, the story is currently topping 11,000 words, and I now have to decide if I want to go back and edit the beginning and hope that the story is told, or if I want to expand the story and just make it into a short novel.  I didn’t plan for it, and I tried to keep the story shorter.  As a result, I now have to do a lot more work than if I had just listened to the characters in the first place.

I sympathize with the family, but I believe King meant no harm.  Those of you who read my blog on Feel Good Fridays might be confused by my attitude on this, because I’m all about giving positive things most of our attention.  And while that’s true, I never meant to suggest that we should ignore things that go on in the dark.  The things that go on in the dark can be scary if we don’t shed light on them, if we try to pretend they don’t exist.  I try not to live in fear, because I truly believe that fear gives power to things, and that exposing them takes that power away.  Early man sat around the fire and learned that stories could chase away the dark more powerfully than fire.  They told scary stories for the thrill, yes, but also because telling scary stories is like whistling in the graveyard.  It’s a talisman, bravado, but also a way to understand and take some of the mystery away.

So gather ’round my fire, and I’ll tell you a story.

1984- A Review

thI finally finished 1984, by George Orwell.  While I wouldn’t say it’s an easy read, it is an interesting one.  It took me about two weeks to get through, and that’s mostly because it’s not a book I particularly wanted to read in order to “relax.”  Some classics have nice language, but are boring stories.  This book has an interesting story and is well written.  There are times it’s either more or less interesting, but overall, it’s a book I recommend reading, at least once.

I talked a few days ago about my thoughts on how scary the society’s attitude toward language is, so I won’t return to that.  The book had a fast paced plot with accessible language and good writing.  The problem with the book is that the subject matter is too weighty to read it primarily for relaxation.  Last time I read it, for whatever reason, I had to force myself, and I lost interest halfway through.  This time, though I read it from the beginning, it kept me pretty riveted.

I believe that this book is timeless because it deals with concepts and ideas, a reality that could happen, rather than events.  Yes, the book is laid out in a dystopian future (published in 1949, it was the future), but the book isn’t primarily about the plot.  This an extreme example of where society could go.  It’s an extreme example of losing one’s humanity.  If you’re controlled, suppressed, made to think and act a certain way, you lose humanity.  Throughout the book, whenever they talked about the “lower classes,” the Proles, I thought, “Well, can’t he (the main character) just go be a Prole?  That’s what I’d rather do.”  The thought of being watched and controlled is intolerable to me.

What scares me most about this book is that I see little things happening here and there.  From the beginning, I’ve said that I’d rather be less secure on an airplane than go through so much security.  I’d rather be less safe than know the NSA is watching and listening.  I’m okay with life’s uncertainty.  In theory, what’s going on isn’t so bad.  But where does it stop?  If our rights erode a little bit at a time, how long will it take before they’re gone?

These are my questions… I’m unfortunately not political enough to have good answers.  I want freedom to think and act and be as I choose.  Our system of government evolved so that certain people could represent the rest of use.  But are they representing us anymore?

The sad truth is that those in power will always want more power.  And they get it by saying it’s for our own good, something that sounds good enough at first that those of us who just want to live our lives will buy it.  At first.

Read 1984.  Discuss it with people.  It’s a good book whether you look at it as purely a work of fiction, as a warning, or a reality.