7 Things Star Wars Can Teach You About Life and Politics

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I was watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith last night and was amazed at the depth of wisdom and good advice that comes out of some of those characters. Yoda is like an old Buddhist master, Obi-Wan Kenobi is like an experience Samurai warrior and so on. There is also a lot of political pundit banter that goes on between the Council and the Dark Side. Inspired by this re-run I went through some of the old movies and found some of the best quotes and lessons that can teach us a thing or two about life and politics.

Star Wars’ Lessons on Life and Politics

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” Obi-Wan Kenobi

Things Star Wars Can Teach You About Life

One of the best quotes that ever came out of a Star Wars movie was when Obi-Wan said that our truths depend on our point of view. This is something that my buddhist teachers in India are always telling us – don’t be so solid, stiff and rigid. Your truth is not the next person’s truth. Truth is not always truth.

A logical proof that truth is not solidly existing is the example of water. To you and me a glass of water is something to drink. To a fish, however, it is like air. To some creatures it might be like fire. The “truth” we cling to is not a truth that is the same for everyone.

The reason I like this quote so much is because many of the wars and horrible acts that occur on Earth are because people cling to their own solid ideas of truth. You see it in religion, race divisions, political party alliance, etc. If people took time to break down the dogmas that they had been fed they would soon see that truth is not truth for everyone and this would bring people much closer together.

Bravo Obi-Wan!

“Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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In today’s world we are told to be afraid. The USA has a whole system set up to tell us how much we should be afraid. Some days we are supposed to be Orange level afraid, other days we might have to be Red level afraid. But the problem with fear, as Yoda points out, is that it leads to anger, hate, violence and suffering.

Fear is something that is built in to us. A certain level of fear is healthy. If we had no fear we would walk out on to the road in front of a Hummer with no second thoughts. We would do all sorts of stupid and illogical things. However, the “dark side” type of fear is a fear that says that “those people are my enemies”. It leads to categorization and pretty soon, like in many American’s minds, you are labelling all Muslims as terrorists. This is simply not true. 99.999% of Muslims are peace loving people who contibute to our society in postive and wonderful ways. They are loving fathers and caring mother. But because of fear many people label them ALL as bad.

Fear starts wars. It starts fights. It upsets our mind’s and makes us stressed and anxious. And the funny thing is – most of the time the fear is unnecessary.

So you have a choice. Do you live your life in fear and protect yourself from every possible thing that could go wrong, spending your whole life worrying about things that will probably never happen. Or, do you open yourself up to love and compassion and the goodness in human nature and life a happy and carefree life?

For me the choice is easy.

“There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.” Han Solo, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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Probably the best quote that ever came out of Harrison Ford’s mouth is the one you see above. Han Solo was a lone ranger, a true individual – hence is name! The wonderful thing about this is that he was fully independent and took care of his own happiness.

The great thing about this quote is that it encourages people to change their own crappy situations. Han Solo doesn’t leave his destiny up to The Force or God or Jesus or his Boss; he leaves it up to himself. He takes care of his own business and in doing so understands that he is the sole person who can make his mind happy.

But there is a danger here. Being an individual can have it’s downsides. Sometimes strong individuals are tempted to think that the never need anyone and as such become lonely and bitter people. You still need compassion and love in your life. If you live your life trying to be completely solo you will undoubtedly end up a very sad old person.

“What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we’ve been fighting to destroy?” Padme Amidala, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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The great thing about cinema is that is can make political and social commentary about modern issues without sounding bitter and twisted or being accused of hating America. This statement by the beautiful princess is one such comment and it is extremely important to consider.

I have long been convinced that the US Democracy is heading in strange and concerning directions. The Constitution seems to be read as a list of suggestions, the President who was appointed by a Court and not actually elected by the people can (and does!) override the representatives of the People while the rights of the American people themselves are being taken away due to a mystical war that can never end – the war on terror.

So we need to look at the Princess’ quote and ask ourselves whether holding prisioners in a cell in Cuba without trial is really what we want in a society. Sure, they might be terrorists but aren’t they supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? What about allowing one (dubiously elected) man to veto a Bill passed by your representatives that would permit scientists to use eggs (that would never become babys) to produce treatments that could potentially relieve the suffering of millions because his religion might not like it?

That sounds like dictatorship to me… not democracy.

I am touching on some sensitive issues here but my intention is not to make political statements, it is to get you to ask questions. It is to get you to open your mind. And like Han Solo and Princess Padme it is also to try to get you to realize that you are in charge of your own Politcal Destiny this year. If you do not like the direction YOUR Democracy is taking then you need to change it.

“Do or do not… there is no try.” – Yoda

Things Star Wars Can Teach You About Life

I love this quote because it teaches people to believe in themselves and their own abilities. It is a confidence boosting quote that encourages you to go beyond “trying” to the point where you just do it. It gets rid of all sense of hesitation and doubt.

I once heard a meditation master say that doubt is the biggest obstacle that westerners have to happiness. We doubt we are good enough, tall enough, pretty enough, fast enough, deserved enough. We doubt ourselves all the time. Yoda is telling us to get over that doubt and just do it. Don’t just try and do it. The statement “I’ll try…” is very different to the statement “I’ll do it”.

Anakin Skywalker

“Don’t you see? We don’t have to run away anymore! I am more powerful than the Chancellor, I… I can overthrow him! And together, you and I can rule the galaxy! Make things the way we want them to be!” – Anakin Skywalker

The Revenge of the Sith tore my heart out and stomped it into the ground. It was a fantastic movie that had all the makings of a traditional Greek tragedy. It is centered around Anakin Skywalker who we know is heading towards becoming the extremely evil Darth Vader. Even though we know Anakin is becoming Vader we still are glued to the screen with curiosity. We are curious as to how someone so good can go so bad.

And the answer is power.

Anakin’s sole motivation is to benefit the galaxy. He is one of the most powerful Jedi to ever have lived but with this power comes the arrogance of thinking that he is able to rule and make things better. At the end of the movie he even calls the galaxy “my empire” and cries that only because of his efforts did the universe find peace. He is above the law, the Jedi Council and even his own Master. He feels he is all powerful and like the saying goes; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

For me this is an extremely crucial and touching element of Star Wars. Seeing how perfectly altruistic and compassionate intentions can turn bad when arrogance, unchecked power, greed and corruption are thrown in to the mix. It is fascinating to see the parallels between Anakin’s downfall and the current status of many people and nations on this planet. Fascinating but disturbing.

“Well, I should be! Some day I will be… I will be the most powerful Jedi ever. I promise you. I will even learn to stop people from dying.” – Anakin Skywalker

The final lesson for this post comes from Anakin. The lesson of death. It is a theme that runs through all the movies and a theme that runs through all of our lives. Death is inevitable. We cannot stop it. Even the most poweful Jedi in history could not stop it. And as we learned in the first quote from Yoda – fear creates suffering. We are all afraid of death but we are not preparing for it.

Accepting the truth of death is something that Anakin could not do. He was not brave enough. But we need to be. We need to figure out how to die with no regrets whatsoever. Yoda did. And as far as I am concerned this is the most powerful lesson that the Star Wars saga has to offer.

Will you die happy and laughing like Yoda or screaming like Anakin?

**Top 10 Daily Mind post.**

25 thoughts on “7 Things Star Wars Can Teach You About Life and Politics

  1. good article overall, but the comment “the President who was appointed by a Court and not actually elected by the people…” is somewhat dated, it may have been a somewhat accurate statement in 2000, but the American public reaffirmed the decision through a clearly democratic decision in 2004. You (America) got exactly what you deserved, no more, no less…

  2. Absolutely amazing article! I loved it!

    Another quote about death comes from Yoda: “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”

    That’s an excellent quote.

  3. Well, that’s only if you believe that Bush actually won the election, legitimately. It all depends upon your point of view…

  4. This could be the biggest bunch of crap I’ve ever read. I hate that the Star Wars fiction that I love so dearly is associated with such irreverent thinking.

  5. Great article! One little tiny nitpick tho… (coming from a big SW fan) Padme was a Queen then Senator for Naboo. She was never a princess! ;)

  6. Leandro – Nice quote! I didn’t see that one.

    Bob – Exactly.

    Shane – Thanks for the comments. Why was it crap? Care to elaborate?

    Karl – I agree about the checks and balances. Even within the Jedi Council there were no checks and balances. Yoda was too powerful and as such Obi-Wan was able to train someone he never should have. Perhaps…

    The OtherGuy – Oooppss… can’t believe I made that mistake!

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    TDM

  7. Cool quotes. Didnt agree with the one about Han. Sure hes the rough and rugged loner type, which IS cool. But, despite that fact that he SAID “….theres no mysticl energy filed, etc….”, doesnt take away from the fact that there IS a mystical energy field.

    Also,cross reference what Han said in EP IV, with Yoda’s speech about the Force in EP V. There is a strong sense of faith (of one kind or another) in all of the SW movies.

  8. Revenge of the Sith is a great movie. I went for about a year without watching any films since I was so busy. Then when I went back to the theater, the first movie I saw was ROTS. It makes sense that Star Wars would speak to universal truths since George Lucas drew on Joseph Campbell’s meta-analysis of mythology back in the 70’s when he was making the original films.

  9. Thanks for the comments guys.

    bigwinner – He also drew a lot from Buddhism. I know the lama he met and based Yoda’s character on. He passed away about 20 years ago. I’ll try and find a photo cos he looks exactly the same!

    TDM

  10. Awesome post.

    Does it mean we are heading to the Darkside (not literally)? Star Wars does have some wonderful quotes and that’s why I love the series, not only is it a fun fantasy world movie, but it also contains a lot of life lessons and wisdom of this world.

  11. “What about allowing one (dubiously elected) man to veto a Bill passed by your representatives that would permit scientists to use eggs (that would never become babys) to produce treatments that could potentially relieve the suffering of millions because his religion might not like it?”

    While I agree with your sentiment, I must add something: the veto power is a check on Congress. One may believe that a President should or should not be in office, but once in office he has the power to veto legislation. This power is unquestionably a Constitutionally delegated presidential power. If a bill has broad based support throughout the country it could get passed through a two-thirds supermajority of both houses of Congress over the president’s veto.

    I find it abhorrent that stem-cell research is not pursued vigorously by our government. I do not agree with the current president’s politics. With that said, we must respect the laws and work to effect change however we can: be it at the community, local, state, or federal level. Lincoln said (and Socrates would agree): “When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made.–I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed.” Even though W. is a hated and embarrassing dolt to most of us we should not undermine the authority granted him by the Constitution because we want that power reserved for future, good presidents (Senator Obama perhaps?).

    Great article. I agree wholeheartedly and in total with the rest of it!

  12. Hi Jim.

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a fantastic comment!

    I agree with you 100% about what Lincoln said.

    I think what bothers me (other than Bush) is the American Democratic system itself. It is not as democratic as one might think. This issue of Presidential Veto is one such example. Congress members are directly elected but the President institution is swayed by super delegates who have more than one electoral vote when appointed the nominee after the primary elections. So why should he have the final check if he got there by a less-than-democratic method? I’m not sure.

    The second thing that bothers me is that once he is in he just appoints his golf buddies as his cabinet. Very strange.

    If you get a chance you might be interested in the Australian system. Here we have an election where we elect the members of parliament (congress). The party who gets the most representatives in the congress forms the Government and they appoint a Prime Minister from the party. So not only is the PM elected to a seat by the people, he is also selected by the representatives of the people. And unlike the USA he sits in Congress and has to defend/promote his Bills if he wants them passed.

    Anyway – thank you for your comment. I really enjoyed it!

    TDM

  13. “Will you die happy and laughing like Yoda or screaming like Anakin?”

    Anakin did not die screaming. He accepted his death . . . quite peacefully, I might add.

  14. Amazingly well written, and compelling article. I loved the analyzation of each quote and how you interpreted them, job well done :-)

  15. A good one to include in this article is a quote form Liam Neeson’s character from the Phantom Menace:

    Your focus determines your reality.

  16. actually, Anakin died when he was named Vader. Vader’s death he accepted. Anakin had long been dead.

  17. One of the reasons that Star Wars was so successful was its ability to communicate on several different levels, and tell several stories at the same time, which appealled to different age groups. Excellent article.

  18. ugh who ever likes star wars and is like a teenager is such a nerd!!!! lol people, btw the guy that plays as anikan skywalker is actouly kinda hot.

  19. You can talk or debate all you want about the election in 2000, but the “truth” you cling to is not a truth that is the same for everyone.

  20. On Han Solo’s quote, Sparknotes actually put it “Han’s claim of never having seen evidence of the Force in his travels is clearly self-serving. That is, Han sees no evidence of the Force affecting his life precisely because he does not wish to see such a force affect his life. Han wants to shape his own destiny apart from others, which requires that he be cut off from the Force, which, as we have been told by Ben, penetrates us all and binds us together. Even after Luke is able to defeat the remote with his eyes shielded, Han would much rather trust in his own skill, and even in “luck,” than accept that his own fate is contingent on anyone or anything outside of himself.”. Han is originally out for himself, but he helps Luke twice when he is in need, and when he is frozen in carbonite, his friends save him. He learns that he has to trust and rely on others. He goes from a selfish loner to a loyal friend.

  21. At this time it sounds like WordPress is the top blogging platform
    out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

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