Fear & Anakin Skywalker

If you haven’t already guessed by the title of this post, I’m a huge fan of Star Wars. Star Wars is the Godfather of all movies, lessons, life quotes, and I believe that you can learn more about yourself through watching a Star Wars film than you could ever imagine you could. Now I have two favourite characters in Star Wars, and according to most MBTI (personality quizzes) both are INFJ’s like myself. They are Obi Wan and Darth Vader (formerly Anakin Skywalker). I’m attracted to both of these characters because they are inherently so similar and incredibly sensitive to the force, and yet both characters develop the force differently. I’ve realized in these last few weeks that for a person who takes a heck of a lot of risks, I sure do have a lot of fears. Some of my fears make sense, but most of them really don’t. Most of them can be pointless, or amazingly well imagined. When I say “well imagined”, I mean that these fears are so well designed by my own imagination of what I assume is happening, that they seem to convince everyone else around me that somehow they are justified. I can basically scare the crap out of myself… and not even notice that I’ve just done that. The mind is truly a powerful thing.

Perhaps the most famous and amazing quote by Yoda, was the one he says to little Anakin when he’s being evaluated before entering “Jedi-ism”:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”-Yoda

We all know Anakin became Darth Vader, but there’s a part of me that sympathizes so deeply with him. His fears were justified, he was separated from his mother, he knew something would happen to her and something does happen to her. It’s like he was destined to such greatness that everyone around him would suffer in some way. I sometimes think about things like that, are some of our paths so grand and complicated that having people love us, and loving others would only destroy us and them? Anakin’s fears are justified over and over again. First when he loses his mother, and then of course when he realizes he will also lose Padme (Amidala). He thinks that by joining the dark side he can save her. He thought that by slaying those that killed his mother he would avenge her death. Anger becomes his ally because he sees it as his only choice. Anger is such a tricky feeling, and goes very well with fear somehow. Anger is a suppressant for suffering. When you’re angry, you don’t feel sad, you’re just angry, so you can move on and get things done. I am incredibly productive when I’m angry, granted I can be destructive too, but I have strength, I have energy. When I’m sad and suffering I do not, I can’t focus, I can’t listen to music, I feel like I can’t do anything. Anger indeed will lead you to hate, because overtime if you are angry enough with something or someone you start to hate them, and then of course, hate will always bring along suffering. But somehow, being angry always seems like the better alternative to being sad. However, it all starts with fear. There have been so many times when I have feared that someone is lying to me, that I have felt that perhaps I should distance myself from people. Many times I have accurately felt as if people have deceived me, and in finding out that I’m right, I am only further disappointed. Like Anakin, part of me “knows” I just know. It’s bizarre, it’s like watching your life fall apart before it happens, knowing you won’t be able to stop it, but desperately trying to anyway.

 

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I like to say that Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader is a vivid picture of what fear turns us into. It’s quite the catch 22, you fear because you love, because you care. You are afraid of losing something, of losing someone, of missing out on something you care about or having it go wrong. Otherwise you wouldn’t fear, you don’t fear losing the love of people you don’t know? You also don’t fear losing a job you don’t have, or a house or a career or anything. People say the phrase “you’ve got nothing to lose” so often, but what does that mean? It means you have nothing to fear, because you have nothing to lose, because you have nothing to love so much that you would fear losing it. So how does it work then, that perfect love casts out all fear? How can you get to loving something so much that you’ve moved on past the fear of losing it? That is my question. Anakin Skywalker did not begin not loving enough, he began loving too much and in turn fearing that this love would be at risk. So in the end, his anger turns him into a fearless and fearful creature with no heart nor feelings. He turned off his ability to feel anything that would cause him pain, and sometimes I feel that even I am at the risk of doing that. You see as much as we like to claim there is, there really isn’t much middle ground when it comes to this. Indifference to the pain of the world is our way of turning into a Darth Vader of sorts. But why do we do it? Because it hurts us too much to actually feel that pain.

1 John 4:18 is probably my favourite verse of all time, and yet it is the one which is most difficult for me to master. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I go around and around this verse, I dissect it, I swallow it, I spit it back out, I ponder and analyze it, and still it puzzles me. It confuses me and brings me to the edge of my seat in so many ways. Fear does have to do with punishment, the belief that somehow life will punish you for something, like there is some unwritten rule somewhere in the universe that dictates that because you’ve screwed up somewhere things will go wrong for you. This notion of “what goes around comes around” that we get what we “deserve” and yet this is not what God is about at all. If we all got what we deserved, we’d all be dead… or worse. None of us do good all the time. Many of us don’t even try. Perhaps it is the fear of ourselves, of the lack we see in our own hearts and minds that causes us to grip so tightly to negative emotions and ultimately to turning them off and becoming ruthless. Maybe it is ourselves that we need to learn not to hate, not to villainize, so that in turn we could be perfected in loving ourselves the way God loves us.

What if Anakin Skywalker would have loved who he was so much and loved the gift of the force that was given to him, that even if he lost everything and everyone he was secure that he couldn’t change. He would have valued himself enough not to change the core of who he was. I always think that perfect love has to do with how we love others, but sometimes perfect love has to do with how we love ourselves. In the end we know that Darth Vader repents, and even though it is too late, it actually isn’t. Everyone thinks it is because of how much he realizes he cares about his son that he turns back to the light, but when you really think about it, it’s because he realizes that he can’t (and has not) fully let go of his true identity – a Jedi. I think sometimes I feel like I somehow “blow my cover” in every location I’m in, like I’m this secret agent who isn’t allowed to show weaknesses, and if anyone finds them out I need to run. I’m not going to lie, I’m thinking about running again… it sounds mighty enticing, I really want to do it. But right now I can’t. I just know that I’d give anything not to fear, not to fear losing anything or anyone. Not to fear the future, or to think about how it will make me feel if it turns out one way or the other… I don’t want to be that person. I want to love myself and the plan that God has for me even when I don’t know what that plan is, and I want to be able to love so perfectly that even if everything I ever wanted and could ever want failed me, I wouldn’t be afraid. I would remain unchanged, what a journey I have ahead of me to conquer that but maybe it’s all worth it. See you somewhere at the top of Everest.

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