George Lucas Strikes Back… with important life lessons.
Last night my wife and I watched Star Wars: Return of the Jedi with some friends. I’ve long been a Star Wars nerd, but what struck me on this particular occasion was how accurately George Lucas manages to depict human psychology.
Towards the end of the movie, Darth Vader brings Luke to the Emperor – for his long-awaited, “inevitable” conversion to the dark side of the force. The Emperor shows him the trap he’s laid for his rebel friends, and says their destruction is imminent. He encourages Luke to give in to his anger, fear, and aggression, in order to extract unlimited power from The Force.
The Emperor then suggests that Luke grab his light saber and strike him (the Emperor) down, since that will forever seal his fate going down the dark path.
(Spoiler alert moving forward, in case you haven’t seen the movies)
As those of you who have seen the movie know, Luke ultimately stays strong in his moral convictions and does not join the dark side. In exchange for this refusal, the Emperor becomes furious and attempts to kill Luke using the dark force of lightning. And in a sudden twist, Darth Vader finds the single remaining shred of good left in him, deciding to kill the Emperor and save his son.
In doing so, Darth Vader ceases to be the evil overlord he once was and returns to his role as Anakin Skywalker. The incredible thing is how quickly Luke implicitly forgives him for his past evils and shows love, affection, and acceptance of his father. He even tries to save him in his escape of the Death Star, before it is blown to pieces.
Of course, Star Wars is a fiction – but there are plenty of real life lessons to be learned here. In the fictional world of Star Wars, had Luke not believed in his father, seen the good in him, and encouraged him to reunite with it… who knows what the Star Wars Galaxy could have become, with the Emperor still reigning and Darth Vader at large.
Instead, because of his love, compassion, and commitment to principle, good was able to prevail in the end.
You see, even though Star Wars is a fiction, this is a battle we all face every day — as do our world’s leaders. Will you go down the dark path, giving into your anger, fear, and aggression? Or will you hold onto your principles and emit love, forgiveness, and acceptance of others?
It is no secret we are in a day and age where more people are becoming empathetic for others, even those who are unlike them and have different belief systems… even those to whom they really probably cannot relate, because they are in different countries living a completely different type of life.
Yet they do find a means of relating on a fundamental human level. They understand we are all human beings, and we all deserve a chance in life.
From this base level understanding comes empathy, love, forgiveness, tolerance, and acceptance of others (as opposed to hatred, judgment, aggression, fear, and rejection). And deep down, we all crave these things. We all want to be empathized with, loved, tolerated, forgiven, and accepted. We all have a deep need to feel significant and meaningful and important. None of us want to be hated, judged, and rejected.
Jimi Hendrix once said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader’s unexpected turn back towards the light side of The Force is a perfect example of love overcoming the desire for power. And the triggering event that caused him to make this switch was the love shown to him by his own son; his son’s belief in his ability to be good again.
This is the power of love at its finest.
We may also infer that love tends to beget love, while hate tends to beget hate. We cannot expect to be loved, tolerated, or accepted if we do not also show these things for other people. What’s more, the great power of love comes is that it can even convert people from “hate” back towards “love.”
On the other side of the coin, so too enough hatred can also convert people towards hate. Hence the importance of choosing our feelings and expression wisely. Tolerance is risky, love can make us vulnerable, and there are never any guarantees. But the alternative, choosing a path of negativity and hate, is a guaranteed poor outcome – so why choose it?
Challenge yourself to show love, forgiveness, and acceptance to someone you normally would not. You might be surprised what happens.