There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
—The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)
Earlier tonight, (postscript: I started writing this yesterday) I was still fired up and angry at a friend of mine. It was because of her views on Osama bin Ladin’s death. She jumped in on a discussion on my Facebok page and started professing her hatred for the recently slain man, wanted to see the body, and wanted his family wiped from the planet as well. She was just shy of saying we should kill all Muslims, and worse, was advocating the killing of children to avoid another attack on the United States. Just because they were the offspring of the most vile terrorist of our generation, “He had the death sentence on 12 systems!” doesn’t mean we need to kill them too. I had every intention of posting my full perspective on the death of bin Ladin and the reaction of America here. Then I read a brilliant blog by a friend of mine who put things in perspective. Please take the time to read it! You can find it by CLICKING HERE!
His intelligent and insightful perspective on the situation calmed my nerves and let me focus on more entertaining thoughts, like Star Wars! May 4th is Star Wars Day after all! Who wouldn’t love writing about Star Wars! As I sat to write about the movies that shaped me and my generation, I looked at my Google Calendar, on my droid. “R2, what’s on my schedule tomorrow?”
I have various events in history posted on my calendar. My glorious phone displayed that May 4th was not only was Star Wars Day, it was also the anniversary of the Kent State shootings.
Back before I was born, (just before, mind you.) President Nixon declared we were invading Cambodia! That night a group of drunken students who were against the invasion and too drunk to think responsibly, smashed out store front windows in anger over the military operation. A few days later, a group of young idealistic college students on Kent Sate University Campus, planned a protest demonstration. In reaction to the previous violent outburst and destruction of public property, the Mayor and other officials decided to call in the National Guard to keep the peace.
That unfortunately, wasn’t what happened. Instead, the situation devolved into something that is still unclear to this day. What is known is the National Guard fired on unarmed student protesters and killed four of them. Well, now I am not really in such a happy go lucky, Jar Jar Binks, “Meesa gonna write meesa blog, and it will be moi moi okeday!” kinda mood. Instead I was feeling a little like whiny Luke right now. “I can write an upbeat blog! Ben, tell him I’m.. OWE!”
After nursing the metaphorical bump on my head, I decided to do the stupid thing and write about all three! Well, may the force be with ME!
While I don’t go around wearing brown robes or try to move things with my mind, I have over the years, tried to live my life like a Jedi.
I am not joining the church or anything, but I do find my personal, moral and religious beliefs lean toward the concepts instilled by the fictional Jedi Order.
I believe that being patient and calm is better.
I believe that knowledge is better than ignorance.
I sometimes meditate. (Not as much as I used to)
I have also done plenty of light saber training in my youth with the best practice tool available!
That being said, let me put my friends objections to rest and state, that I am not very good at being a Jedi. I can be cynical bitter and stupid. I don’t have enough patience and I also find that there are times when the anger builds up in me so much I could break things! In the past, I have even been brought to the point where I want to cause physical violence. But this was never my outlook. I would never be caught saying, “I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men… but the women, and the children too. They’re like animals! And I slaughtered them like animals! I hate them!”
When I get fired up or passionate about something I usually turn towards anger! I have been angry at plenty of ignorant and stupid actions, mostly my own. However there is also the ignorance of people who, not only live a life of predjudice and hate, but think everyone else around them has the same view. I recall my first true feeling of rage because of that. I was working for a 24 hour convenience store the morning of January 25th 1993. While this was not my first instance of prejudice, it was a profound one. It was around 5:30 am and the first rush of morning customers on their way to work had come in. An overweight white guard from the local state prison walked to the counter and slapped down the local paper. The headline read, “THURGOOD MARSHALL DIES.” He looks at me and taps his finger on the paper saying, “That Goddamn Mother Fucker should have died thirty five fuckin’ years ago!”
My blood boiled! I saw red. I wanted so badly to tell him to get the fuck out of my store, (which it wasn’t) never come back and add a few other negative statements in there. Heck, I really wanted to hold up my hand and squeeze his throat closed! Instead, knowing that it would not only cause me to lose my job, but probably get me in a heap of trouble….. I bit my tongue. Literally it turned out. As I took his money in silence, I noticed he was looking at me rather oddly. Not exactly scared, (Who would be?) but cautious. As I went to ring the next person up, I noted my hands were trembling. Just then the person working with me came over and insisted I take a break. Later that day she said I was beet red and shaking. She thought I might be having a heart attack. One of the people in line told her what happened and said that they were impressed with my restraint. She wouldn’t have been as impressed if she saw me out back kicking the crap out of a big plastic trashcan!
Intolerance is intolerable! That’s my perspective on prejudice and ignorance. My parents brought me up to be open minded. My father fondly recalls going to see a Richard Pryor standup show at a local movie theater. He and my mother were the only white people in the audience. He comments on how nervous my mother was and that he found it rather humorous. He was never ignorant to anyone because of race or belief. Most of my immediate family on both sides of my family were the same. Even with that, it wasn’t easy to stay free of prejudice, but I have tried my best to be open minded. Ironically, I seem to have developed a prejudice against the prejudice.
Those passions we feel towards something are the emotions the Jedi tried to suppress. Emotions lead to foolish behavior. Our emotions cause use to act erratic and illogical! (Yes that’s Star Trek not Star Wars! The point is the same, Jerkwad!) You don’t have to be a Jedi, Vulcan, etc. to see how emotions cause us trouble. Just look at history. I wasn’t around for the protest of the Vietnam War and the Kent State Shootings. But I can see what those emotions have caused us to do.
The Kent State shootings were a tragedy. They were fueled by passions. The anger and sadness of the Anti-War protesters. The fear and disgust of the store front owners and local political figures who wanted to avoid further vandalism. The fear of the National Guard who felt threatened when an alleged gun shot went off. That situation could have been avoided if people turned off those emotions.
Since September 11th, I have seen many more emotions, from myself, my friends and many other people. Both negative and positive. Through it all I have tried to remain level headed. I avoided prejudgment on these things till I studied the facts. For a time, I got caught up in investigating conspiracy theories, but that was just a phase! I witnessed the reaction of the world to the World Trade Center attack. For a time I watched in stunned horror. Then shed actual tears at the scenes of tragedy. I sat and discussed it with high school kids at the local game store I worked at. This left me with many more emotions.
I went to New York City in October of 2011 and met with many comic book artists and writers, about what they intended to publish in response. That somber day is still one of my favorite moments of my life. The sobering reality of seeing Ground Zero mixed with the elation of meeting Joe Quesada, Todd McFarlane, and others made for fascinating day. I fondly recall the day we got the call, inviting us to that meeting. Our employee Matt answered the phone while I was waiting on a customer. He interrupts me with an excited tap on the shoulder. I turn and see him gingerly holding his hand over the the phone, saying in excited hushed tones, “It’s Joe Quesada on the phone and he is asking for you!” I was shocked and wide eyed, disbelieving him. The call was short and business like, very professional. As soon as I was off the phone I was as close to a screaming teenage girl seeing the Beetles for the first time. It is still weird to think about the fond memories I have as a result to that tragedy. We did get some of the best works of emotion formed from the tragedy of September 11th. Amazing Spiderman #39 was a masterpiece!
It also influence one of the most un-enjoyable conversations I had ever had. A close friend of mine was in New York that day and it had hit her much harder than it had me. She was full of emotions about that day that were difficult to deal with. It was some time after the attacks when we started discussing another current event dealing with a faction of Muslims, either Sunni or Shia, I don’t recall. She had come to abhor them. She wanted them wiped from the Earth. This was not the same person I knew. While she was someone who was passionate to the point of anger about her views, she was never an advocate of killing anyone. The horrors of that day in New York had changed her. She was slipping to the Dark Side! I tried to discuss it with her, only to have her shoot Force lightning at me, Force choke me and then temporarily end our friendship. We patched things up later and are once again good friends. We have never truly discussed her viewpoint on that subject, but I truly believe she has rejected the path of hatred and once again become the quick tempered Jedi Master of fashion, film and political ideals that I remember. And I can also remember us having a wonderful time MST’ing the re-release of Return of the Jedi! Good Times!
The reaction of the world to those attacks caused many emotions in me as well. I watched in disgust as we chose to go to war, in what I felt, were the wrong places. I saw famous people that I respected, like Dennis Miller turn to the way of the Sith! And it caused numerous other frustrating moments when laws that invaded our privacy, protests that were ignored, and many other things I refuse to list here. However, just when I thought it was starting to die down, that Dark Side popped up again, ten years later as we see the ending results of that same negative hatred. People celebrating like ewoks in the streets! Not because a war is over but because a man was assassinated! Did he deserve it? HELL YES! Should we be singing “Yub nub,eee chop yub nub, ah toe meet toe pee-chee keene, g’noop dock fling oh ah” in the streets of New York? No! They were celebrating the end of the war not the death of a man. I have been disappointed tot see friends celebrating the death of a man. This is not just a moral fropm Star Wars. As my friend Jim pointed out, so eloquently, “Just look at Lord of the Rings. You can’t use the Ring against its creator! You have to have a mildly homosexual hairy buddy with you and destroy evil with love.”
That was stated during a discussion with another friend who was telling us we should kill the children of bin Ladin so they won’t follow in the fathers footsteps and commit similar atrocities in the future. When I look on anything from history, to fiction I see nothing redeeming in this idea! Who wiped their enemies from the universe to ensure their reign, in the Star Wars tales. The Sith, that’s who! I was so horrified by the concept of Anakin slaughtering children in the Jedi Academy, (mainly because the plot was so weak, it didn’t make sense) that it made my stomach turn. (Again, nausea from bad writing. Seriously, he went from being unsure who was right and being dedicated to his wife and unborn children to hacking down kids?) The idea of us doing this in real life is appalling! Would we turn to the Dark Side to save our family? I won’t.
So while I think that this Dark Side is so bad, what did the morality of Star Wars teach me?
That it’s OK to grow attached to a piece of machinery! Just as Luke cared for R2-D2, so do I take great fondness in knowing that my an-DROID phone is safe. It is the love anyone would have for a loyal friend!
Living the old way of the Jedi is bad. Emotions are needed. How can we care about human life or anything else. How could Obi Wan know he was fighting for the right thing if it wasn’t for emotions? How could Yoda feel the pain of all those deaths and the sorrow of a war if not for his emotions? Look at the end of Episode III (if you can) and watch Obi Wan show anger and sadness! He yells at Anakin for what he has become. His disappointment and horror are from his emotions!
I still let my emotions get the best of me sometimes. I have spouted thing in anger that I later regret. But if not for those same loves and optimistic feelings, who would I be? If not for the sadness and the disappointments that come from my anger, or sadness, what would I become. If not for my trust in others, I would be alone. I need to feel these emotions.
What we have to realize is there is no clear cut good and evil in most of us. All people are at times, selfish and lustful. We all have negative feelings. Embracing them and allowing them to guide us is when we turn to the Dark Side. There are many quotes by the Dali Lama that flow with the ideals portrayed in the ways of the Jedi. This one, which does not, is my favorite. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
- Don’t let the evil actions of a man guide us to hate an entire culture, religion or race. That same closed minded hatred is what made him so vile. Would you want the world to see you in the same light?
- Don’t let the pain of losing those we love become the bitter fuel that pushes us to do the wrong thing. The morality of Breaking Bad is wrong! There is no good in selling Crystal Meth to support your family when you die from cancer.
- Celebrating death, in any way, is wrong. No matter how vile that person is.
It isn’t like I am foolish enough to believe the ideals of living in a world of Peace and Love is going to happen. As John Lennon’s song said in 1971, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”
He was a dreamer! However, Perfect Circle seems to have performed it best, when they make sound like a funeral dirge. It is truly something we can only imagine. There can be no Light Side without a Dark Side! I choose to live my life in a positive way but that doesn’t mean that every one will.
I also learned this! Luke for all his cry baby antics in Episodes IV & V brought balance to the force. He accepted the Dark Side within him but refused to let it control him. He tapped into his anger and used it. In the end he chose peace.
Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
Jedi use their powers to defend and to protect.
Jedi respect all life, in any form.
Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.
Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.
Seems like a good way to live!
May the Force Be With You!