Thursday, March 3, 2016

How Star Wars Made Me Realize I Was Donald Trump

I was having lunch with my good friend Tyler Parette when we started talking about ethics, politics, and religion, as is pretty normal for the two of us. It was Wednesday right after Super Tuesday and so clearly we had a lot to talk about. 

Explaining our train of thought would be a winding journey you wouldn't want to go down without context, but we ended up talking about how we should stand up to injustice and the things we see as wrong in the world. 

Jesus was a pretty influential dude to Tyler and me, so we naturally brought up the idea of treating others how we would want to be treated. If we were experiencing some sort of injustice, we would surely want someone to stand up for us and help out. However, what does it look like to live by that principle to the one perpetrating the injustice? That's a much more difficult question at times, and it requires compassion for the person that is hard to give compassion to. 

This is where I spouted off - "Star Wars!"

Maybe the greatest moral lesson that Star Wars ever taught me was that the path to the dark side could be accomplished by improperly fighting the bad guy. Darth Vader did not start out being bad. He was corrupted by fighting against the Sith improperly. Despite what one thinks about the series as a whole, it is hard to deny that a pivotal moment for Anakin Skywalker, later to be known as Darth Vader, is when he is convinced to kill Count Dooku. When he chooses to act like a Sith in order to defeat the Sith, his journey takes a turn that leads him to be one of the most legendary villains in all film. 

Luke Skywalker is later faced with the same conundrum. He is told to release his anger against his father, the villain, because in doing so, his path to the dark side will be complete. The Sith win when good men act in Sith ways. This is ultimately where Luke differentiates himself from his father - he refuses to go to the dark side. 

An ethicist I've utilized extensively named Immanuel Kant had this to say about our behavior:

"Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature."

The basic idea here is that you should only act in ways where you would want the rest of the world to follow your lead. You don't want to be lied to, cheated, or stolen from so don't lie, cheat, or steal. 

I might've made a mistake on Monday. I love watching John Oliver, and his segment on Donald Trump pleased my political and comedic nature. I shared it along with absolutely tons of other people. For the most part, I appreciate the humor that Oliver brings to the table and the way he is able to engage difficult topics. But admittedly, on Wednesday I realized that I myself had confessed to hypocrisy. When I shared the post by John Oliver, I said that "John Oliver went after Trump in a way supporters may appreciate...somewhat crass and telling it like it is."

When you were a kid, did your parents ever let you slide because you didn't hit your sibling as hard as they had hit you? I really doubt it...if you grew up in a sensible home. 

Was Oliver's segment funny? Absolutely yes. Was it correct in its information? Yes, although who you ask will probably affect that answer. Was it also crass and belittling in at least a similar if not less so fashion as Trump? Also...yes. 

How would you want someone who you disagree with to engage you in conversation? You are then obligated to engage with them in such a fashion, despite what they do. 

Gandhi is attributed with the common phrase - "Be the change you wish to see in the world." This is more of the bumper sticker version, which reads:

"If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do."

There's a story of a Quaker that was going around preaching pacifist beliefs. After one of his lectures, a man came up to him and said - "stranger, if the whole world were of your mindset, I'd gladly turn and follow." The Quaker then replied - "So, you have decided to be the last person in the world to do good, I have decided to be the first and set the example." 

We cannot wait to see what others do. The world may not change overnight because of your personal decisions and transformation. However, if we don't start with surely isn't going to get any better, and we really may just end up going to the dark side.

It is really easy to make fun of Donald Trump. However, I can't be a Jedi if I am acting like a Sith. We cannot reduce ourselves to the actions of those who we desire to change. None of the world's problems will be solved by doing that which is causing the problem. 

When others do things that we find wrong, merely slapping a label on them like misogynist or bigot is more likely to further solidify their beliefs than to change them; and if it doesn't solidify their opinions, it surely solidifies our opinion of them. This does not mean that we don't stand up against what is wrong in the world. However, it does mean that we must do so in a way that calls out actions instead of people. We must grant our opponents the same humanity we wish ourselves to be given. By externalizing problems from people and approaching them with compassion, we move in that direction.

As my friend Tyler so poignantly said, this is a call to civility. If you find yourself thinking "that stupid conservative/liberal" during this truly polarizing political season, you're already in the wrong. 

Finally, lest you write off my thoughts quickly and go back to your daily activities of sharing memes varying in humor and offensiveness, I beseech your consideration with one more all too common quote from Dr. Seuss speaking on conservationism but yet applies to all realms of human action. 

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to change. It's not."

No comments:

Post a Comment