I gotta tell you, after the news of not one, but three shootings in the last 2 months, as well as (and more emotionally jarring for me) the murder of a friend, I understand the power of the Dark Side. I understand the temptation to lean into that power and the strength that comes from my anger. It gives me focus…makes me stronger. (where have I heard that before…)
It’s a righteous response to hearing about a crime that strips innocence and kindness down to a headline in a newspaper. There is power in the feeling, in the emotion.
It’s why the Jedi teach peace over emotion. It’s why they teach serenity over passion.
But today I don’t want peace and I don’t want serenity! I don’t want to seek knowledge. I don’t want harmony. I don’t want to understand or forgive. I want revenge.
In my heart, in my head, down to my fingertips, in my gut I want swift justice for the men and women mowed down by yet another gunman whose story somehow gets amplified above the stories of his victims. I want swift justice for one of the kindest, most faithful men at my church who was brutally killed. That’s what I want.
The Dark Side calls in moments of high emotion.
The Dark Side seems to have all the answers.
The Dark Side beckons!
But that’s why we (I) have to take extra care to fight for the Light. We (I) have to be vigilant in times of high emotion, in times of pain because these are the times when that Darkness feels comforting. Think of your warm, safe bed. All the lights are off. It’s safe there. It’s comfortable to be wrapped up in that blanket of Darkness and block out all Light.
I’m sure that’s what the congregation of First Baptist of Sutherland Springs wants to do. I’m sure it’s what the citizens of Las Vegas wanted and probably still want to do. And the families of the people mowed down in New York City and on and on and on.
These stories aren’t going away. The world isn’t going to just heal on it’s own. And it is so damn easy to just become numb to it. That’s what the Dark Side will do. It allows numbness to filter in till you can’t feel the pain anymore. And even worse…it tells you that numbness is what you need. It tells you it’s normal.
So, yeah…I know the power of the Dark Side. I feel it, even today, coursing through me. If I could tap into the power of the Force, I’m not sure I’d use my powers for good today. To be honest…it would be a struggle.
But the Emperor hasn’t won yet…the Dark Side has not taken over! The Light is still there and it reminds me of who I am. I use this Star Wars analogy today to add lightness to the pain of these tragedies. But the truth is that these are heavy weights that our country seems to carry more and more of around our collective necks. Salvation rests in believing that we were meant for more and loving beyond our understanding.
The Darkness lets me wish the man who killed my friend would meet with “eye for an eye” justice. But the Light…the Light challenges me to find compassion for the 23 year old who took his own life in a jail cell last Friday after having committed the crime against my friend. One path is much easier…one path is swift and far less complicated. Far less messy. Last week, the Darkness won my thoughts, but today I feel the Light remind me of what is good and pure and beautiful about this world and I think I have it in me to forgive.