Masks

Luke help me take this mask off” – Anakin

But you’ll die” – Luke Skywalker

Nothing can stop that now. Just for once let me look on you with my own eyes.” – Anakin

George Orwell wrote “He wears a mask and his face grows to fit it”. Today most of us will be wearing a mask, literally, figuratively or both. In the figurative sense we wear a mask to conceal who we are. Vulnerabilities are seldom put on display. Inner secrets and intentions are kept hidden. Character flaws and shortcoming are concealed, buried and denied. We want people to see the person we want them to see. We do not even want to face ourselves. Eventually we learn to fit the mask we wear. We become that person. It becomes a suit of armor but it also becomes a prison preventing us from being who we are meant to be.

Darth Vader wore a mask to function physically as his injuries suffered on the lava flows of Mustafar were so severe that he required it to breath and speak. The mask also  concealed his horrific disfigurement  while it became a symbol of tyranny and oppression across the galaxy. Darth Vader all but extinguished the man that once existed but he could not destroy the memory of who he once was. The mask helped conceal his own agony from others. The mask also reinforced his enslavement to the Dark Side.

Kylo Ren wore a mask to hide his true self. Behind that mask was a man who was weak and vulnerable and deeply flawed. Barely a man, Kylo Ren was a child suffering from betrayal and neglect. From a dark place he cast off his former self and taking inspiration from his grandfather, Darth Vader, sought to be like him. Ben Solo had none of the passion, conviction and real suffering that Anakin had had. Kylo Ren was a façade. The mask he wore was a prop used to intimidate others and it failed. Not even a mask could conceal Kylo’s character that had neither virtue or substance.

The Mandalorian warrior was required to wear a helmet to conceal his identity. Their code forbid them from ever removing it in front of others. With the fall of the Mandalore to the Empire, the survivors of the Mandalorian Death Watch scattered across the galaxy and many ended up in the outer rim as Bounty Hunters and Mercenaries. They were self-reliant loners who rarely took bounties alive where it was easier to choose the dead from “dead or alive”. They were ruthless but also disciplined warriors and loyal to one and another and above all to the Mandalorian Code.

“Mando” is the man with no name. A Star Wars gun slinger. The mask gives him a deeper layer of anonymity in a profession where it was best to be on guard, trust few and anonymous. We may not see the Mandalorians face but his actions reveal his true character despite the mask he wears. The mask does not hide Mando as he truly is.

For decades I wore masks. Alcoholics are experts in switching from one persona to the next depending on the situation. Each is a mask that hides true intentions, motivations and character. I could be nice, charming and amicable when it suited me and quickly turn morose, obstinate or belligerent when it didn’t. I would be your best friend if you bought me a drink and then walk past you in the street with barely a glance the next day. In an evening I would convince myself and others that I was somebody who had and would do great things. I would pretend to be anyone but who I was and would lie even when there was no need of it. My alcoholic personality served as a disguise and eventually I came to fit the masks I wore. The masks we make for ourselves and hide behind conceal our pain and the dark truth of who and what we are.

In recovery I learned to remove the masks. I started to drop them. Through inventory and amends the layers of deceit and lies begin to wash away and masks fell as I revealed myself to others and to a Higher Power. I found I no longer had need of a mask. Without any fear of loss or death,  the need for masks falls away. You cannot hide who you are from the Divine.


These days I meet people wearing masks when I go out. Their masks are literal and figurative. Masks are not mandatory where I live in these strange times but some people choose to wear them. Whether they are protecting themselves from others, or trying to protect others from themselves or wear the mask for comfort from fear or because of social pressure, I am unsure. People seem to act differently around others when they wear them. Not long ago seeing people wearing surgical masks would’ve seemed strange. Now it is seems completely normal. Yet people have always worn masks and it would seem strange if they didn’t. Imagine if they didn’t…

People wear masks and their faces grow to fit them. Eventually they become who they are pretending to be. The mask can still come off. Anakin removed his mask as he lay dying and revealed in his last moments his true self. His scarred face betrayed love and final redemption to his son. Kylo Ren desperate to become more powerful cast aside his mask revealing a fragile and deeply conflicted child that could only be pitied. The Bounty Hunter Mando removed his mask and revealed just Mando.

I do not wear a mask either literal or figurative. I see no point in wearing them. Recovery has taught me to be true to my principles whether they agree with others or not. This includes being authentic in every way. Removing your mask means revealing yourself and putting character and your vulnerabilities on display. It is being honest with yourself and others. Unless you are a Mandalorian true to the code, cast aside your mask and show your face. This is who you are. This is the way.

Justice

I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire”- Anakin

 

The Fall

The Jedi were Guardians of Justice. As representatives of the senate they avoided political affiliations and were dedicated to promoting justice and peace in the galaxy. The Jedi did this by applying a code that was ethical, moral and balanced. In other words, they used the “Jedi Method” for dispensing Justice.

Despite their best intentions the Jedi ultimately failed in their mission and were at times a source of injustice in the galaxy. The Jedi were not loved everywhere they went, far from it. As the Republic began to unravel to its end the Jedi found themselves making difficult choices which conflicted with the Jedi Code. The Jedi were complicit in the erosion of the democratic rights of citizens. Their action betrayed the very principles they stood for hastening their final demise. The foundations of justice on which the republic was built were compromised. The failure of Justice led to the rise of Palpatine and the final fall of the Republic.

The Jedi lost sense of who they were. Along the way they compromised their principles for power, prestige and influence. The Jedi became political pawns and were eventually eliminated by Palpatine under Order 66. It was an ignominious end to a shining beacon of freedom and justice in a chaotic galaxy. With the fall of the Jedi came the end of Justice.

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity” –  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A Complex Moral Virtue

Justice is a moral virtue that is as hard to define as it is to achieve. Justice is rarely universal or perfect. For every Justice  there is always a grievance left in its shadow. The scales will tip in favour for one party at the expense for another.

In a perfect world, every decision made in the name of Justice would serve everyone equally and no harm would result. We know this is rarely the case and one person’s gain will be another person’s loss. As hard as it can be to grapple with the outcomes, we should all strive toward “Justice for all” but be aware that mistakes can and will be made. Spend a day in the criminal or family courts to see this how Justice often plays out.

Humans are born with a sense of justice and become conscious of it at an early age. Children know intrinsically when something is unfair. They recognise compassion and empathy and carry an innate natural wisdom. As children age, they are influenced by parents, peers, teachers and the environment. Personal prejudices and biases creep in as the ego flowers. We never lose our divine sense of Justice; it only becomes shrouded.

Truth never damages a cause that is just” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Lady Justice

No two people will have the same answers because everyone holds a different set of values which they define as stated principles. Each person has a varying outlook and idea on how Justice should be dispensed and appear at any given time for any issue. Every person has their unique set of preferences, bias and prejudices known and unknown. These vary and change over time with knowledge and experience.  The exception is those that are told what to think. Without further thought or reasoning they blindly accept dogma and dare not stray from it.

Jedi used their sound judgement and reason. They were flexible enough in their thinking to not fall into traps or follow orders without question. Dogma was avoided. Jedi would at times question the sanity or the morality of decisions made. At the same time the Jedi were sworn to the order and were expected to follow orders. This conflict between personal judgement of what was right versus duty would plague many Jedi.

A real-world Jedi must confront the same questions and grapple with the same inner conflicts. Real-world Jedi are diverse, they are every race, colour, creed, gender, political leaning, sexual orientation and opinion. There is no die-cast Jedi with a “typical” appearance, character or set of ideas. People in general are no different. Regardless of who you vote for, the causes and issues you follow be they social or environmental how you define “Justice” in every instance may differ from that of others.

The foundation of justice is good faith” – Cicero

 

Seeking Justice

Alcoholism distorts ones sense of right and wrong. I had a very skewed sense of justice as it applied to me. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, I was never at fault for any of the harm I caused. Restitution was for others, not me. Blame for my own faults could be assigned to others. I was never at fault. Even when deep inside I knew I had overstepped the mark I was able to rationalise my way out of it. I was the victim in all of this.

Recovery forces us to get honest with ourselves. We look back in to the past  and list all of the people we have harmed. Character flaws are exposed for what they are. Mistakes and injustices are admitted. Seeking to put things right we seek to make amends as far as we can without causing harm to others. Our pride, ego and security is no longer important, we have to put justice first. Our sobriety depends on it.

Justice takes courage. It also takes a commitment to rigorous honesty and humility. Selfishness, pride and ego need to be put aside. It is not a case of saying “I am right therefore you must be wrong“. It is about looking beyond appearances and courageously seeking the truth.

Justice is truth in action.” –  Benjamin Disraeli

 

Jedi Method

So be careful when you demand “Justice”. Things may not be as black and white as they appear. Bias and prejudice will only further cloud judgement. Be mindful of hidden agendas, ulterior motives and a natural desire for restitution or revenge. Justice should contain none of these things.

You must ask if your sense of justice correct? You can seek advice but decide you must, what is right. It may help to ask three important questions before you dispense Justice:

Is it ethical? Ask yourself “would you do something that you would consider wrong or questionable if it were done by someone else?”. If you cannot satisfy this test, then the thing should not be done.

Is it moral? Ask yourself before making a decision “Will I be able to sleep soundly tonight? How would I react if I were on the receiving end? Will I be judged harshly?”. Remember that each judgement that you pass carries consequences, for others and for yourself. Accept that.

Is it balanced? You must determine if something is fair. Does it respect the rights of others? Is it equitable (equity)? Is there also a degree of impartiality? Does it recognise the arguments and grievances of all sides equally (equality)? Is it fair?

Is it true? Justice only holds if it is based on truth. Honesty is paramount. Lies, half truths and falsehoods negate justice.

So, the question you have to ask is “what do you value? What are your principles and finally, how do you define Justice? What is your blind side, and do you know your own biases?” Are your decisions around Justice based on truth, fairness, compassion and wisdom?

Does it agree with the Jedi Method?

 

Image: March on the Jedi Temple during Order 66 (Copyright and all rights reserved by Lucas Films Ltd)

Diplomacy

Diplomatic mission over Naboo

 

You were right about one thing, Master. The negotiations were short.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

The Jedi were trained in diplomacy as much as in Lightsaber combat. Violence was a last resort. Physical force was used proportionate to the threat and only as far as necessary. In all cases a Jedi would seek diplomacy as a way of achieving a mutually beneficial outcome, if possible. Skills in negotiation and communication were paramount. The Lightsaber was only on hand if negotiations turned deadly.

 

Galactic Diplomats

The Republic was dependent on the Jedi being able to persuade allies and potential allies and build strong friendships. Jedi were often sent by the Republic Senate as diplomatic emissaries for this reason. Diplomacy was used to secure trade agreements, treaties, free hostages and avoid or resolve conflict. The Jedi recruited across the galaxy from all worlds and could easily bridge any cultural or linguistic divide by assigning the right team to engage in negotiations or provide a protocol Droid to provide impartial advice and assist. A Jedi could also be excused if they used subterfuge, half-truths or deceit in difficult or deadlocked negotiations. The “Jedi Mind Trick” was seen as a tool to achieving a desired goal without resorting to violence.

In many ways the Jedi resembled the professional diplomat of Earth, with one key difference. The Jedi only acted in the interests of the Republic and never for personal gain. Jedi were also warriors albeit “warriors for peace”. A Jedi who rushed blindly in to the fray with Lightsaber drawn was a liability. A Jedi who could not use diplomacy to talk himself out of a fight was a threat to peace and the Jedi Order.

This is not to say the Jedi were pacifists who objected to violence in all its forms. Violence when required was used without emotion or haste. A Lightsaber was never drawn in anger or used in hate or as a tool of revenge or murder. The Lightsaber was a symbol of control, purity in strength and the cutting edge of diplomacy. At least that was the intent and part of the Jedi Code.

 

You call this a diplomatic solution?” – Anakin

No I call it an aggressive negotiation” – Padmé Amidala

 

No People’s Person

Some of the Jedi were not the best diplomats and suffered the presence of others. Anakin was impatient and emotional, not the traits of a good negotiator. Anakin lacked the skills of a diplomat. Mace Windu could come across as inflexible and grim. The Jedi Master was a traditionalist and did not like the Jedi Order becoming intertwined with the Senate believing there was a conflict of interest at stake during the latter days of the Republic. This put him at odds with the political elite on Coruscant and other Jedi. Ultimately it led Mace Windu on a collision course.

No one is perfect. I would admit to being very brittle and aloof at times. I can also be rude and short with people. At times I have reduced people to tears in the way I have spoken to them. Most of the time I am oblivious that my tone, language and body language presents as defensive, aggressive or impatient and rude. This is the way I am and have always been. Alcoholics also have a penchant for getting people off side and otherwise offending those around them with skill. I used to joke that I not only burned bridges, I napalmed them.

One of the hardest things in recovery is learning how to treat people. We wish to acquire humility and patience so that we can achieve serenity. At the same time we want to be treated with kid gloves and tolerated. We are recovering alcoholics and want the world to be gentle with us. How often do we fail to give others the same tolerance, patience and gentle treatment that we expect for ourselves? How often do we fall back in to the old habits of resentment, anger, impatience and vindictiveness.

I don’t expect I will change any time soon. My character is so ingrained that I will never be completely cured of being an a-hole. What I can do is strive to be more diplomatic in my approach to people. I do not have to like everyone but being respectful and being tolerant is a start. When I fail, which I certainly will I must make amends as soon as I can. There is nothing worse than upsetting others through our words and actions and letting it go. Amends have to be made, our serenity and sobriety depends on it.

 

I am a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan” – Princess Leia

 

Common Past and Future

The 12 Steps recognises a number of truths. Firstly, it lays the blame of our insane behaviour directly on we who are alcoholic. We were insane and others suffered for it. Secondly, it is possible to make amends for our past mistakes and reset our lives so that we can find peace and serenity in the present and look forward to a better future. Thirdly, our character flaws and faults are not irredeemable. By willingly turning them over to a Higher Power and living by principle we experience a change in character. Despite our diversity and differences, we are not unique and we share commonalities with others who suffer, are recovered and those who were never alcoholic to begin with.

Its is understanding those differences and identifying where commonalities exist that is the key to getting out of self and learning diplomacy.

 

So how do we exercise diplomacy?

 

 

The Art of Diplomacy

Diplomacy is learned behaviour, a skill and an art. Learned because as children we observe our parents and peers and learn from their interactions. What is acceptable behaviour is adopted sometimes through trial and error and sometimes through guidance. The skill of diplomacy is using tact, reasoning, communication and negotiation in a manner that recognises one’s opinions, beliefs, ideas and biases as well as those of others. Challenges are skilfully navigated towards arriving at a desired outcome. The art of diplomacy is more refined. It is the mark of a true Jedi because it demonstrate effortless use of the Jedi Code in dealing with others.

 

Language is important.

The words that you choose and the way they are spoken can either persuade and influence or disillusion and alienate people. Be mindful of you language without surrender, use tact in your delivery. Always be clear and avoid ambiguity or misleading statements. Be sensitive to cultural mores around communication. For example, in some cultures yelling and being animated in negotiations is acceptable, in others it is frowned upon severely.

 

Patience is a virtue.

Never rush in to negotiations. Think things through before speaking or remain silent. If possible, have a plan on how to proceed with discussions.

 

Compromise, but never on principles.

Negotiations should never force you to compromise or betray your own principles regardless of the cost.

 

Be assertive yet agreeable.

Getting your way does not mean you need to force it. At the same time betraying weakness can quickly work against you. Hold on to your ground and only concede when it advantageous to do so. Just be nice while doing it. You can disagree without being disagreeable. Manners never cost anyone.

 

Face to Face.

Negotiation is best done person to person rather than remotely through email, messaging or phone. Much in communication is lost when facial expressions and body language is absent from negotiations. We are all guilty of over using email and texting to communicate and have probably been misunderstood more than once. Always insist on face to face negotiations and follow up with electronic communication.

 

Listen and Learn.

Active listening is essential to effective communication. Strive to listen, engage with questions to clarify and really try to understand what is being said. Show interest and avoid appearing absent or distracted. No one likes an incessant talker but everyone likes a good listener. Best of all a listener will learn something new while a talker will only repeat what is already known.

 

Empathy and understanding is the key.

Selfish motivations and biases will cloud negotiations. While we hear the concerns, demands or grievances of another party we are filtering them through the lens of our own needs. By understand where the other person is coming from and putting ourselves in to their shoes we can start to see the world and the issue through their eyes. With empathy comes arrival at a place of mutual understanding.

 

Open horizons.

Anyone who has worked as a Diplomat will reinforce the need to understand who sits at the other side of the table during negotiations. There exists cultural, religious, historic and linguistic differences between people and to bridge the gap it helps to understand them. Any smart Diplomat will study closely the culture of the country they are working in and make efforts to learn the rudiments of the language and otherwise seek the services of a local to act as adviser and interpreter.

 

You don’t have to like the guy, just work with him.

Rapport and honesty are important but not crucial. World leaders will meet and agree on crucial issues of national and global importance. They may not like each other but for the sake of diplomacy will find rapport to undertake productive negotiations. Honesty is a facet of trust which is requisite for agreements however an honest Diplomat will concede that the real world is more complicated than that. In the real world we are no different. One must use their discretion. Every day we must negotiate with people whom we love, like and dislike including family, friends, work colleagues, clients and random people we meet. If you deal honestly and have rapport you are likely to run into less problems getting your way however you should be mindful that being overly honest can also come with a price.

 

Diplomacy can appear to be a hard to acquire skill but it need not be. The four golden rules to remember are listen actively, respond respectfully, make your case clear, apply your principles. The art of diplomacy is understanding the differences around you and finding the commonalities that exist between them.

 

Λόγος

Λόγος: Logos (reason / meaning)

 

“I want to be a Jedi, like my Father” – Luke Skywalker to Obi-wan Kenobi “A New Hope”

 

“Being a Jedi is a hard life” – Qui-Gon Jinn to Anakin Skywalker “The Phantom Menace”

 

Is being Jedi an occupation, a job, an avocation, a lifestyle or a discipline? Can someone really call themselves a Jedi or claim the title of Master? Is being sober a lifestyle choice, a path, an avocation? Is it an actual job for some? Do we seek meaning in the things that we do or do the things that we do give our lives meaning? Do we give our lives meaning or the other way round? Are we nothing more the total sum of our existence at any given moment? Are you merely your job, possessions, responsibilities, car, where you live, your clothes and the image you put on for others or something more?

When Luke saw the bodies of his Uncle and Aunt and the smoking ruins of his home on Tatooine he knew that everything had changed. There was only one thing to do. Luke’s destiny was to become a Jedi and his actions from that moment would resound across the Galaxy. Being a Jedi was his calling, his purpose and the meaning he gave his life. Luke embraced his destiny. Being a Jedi was more than a Job it was the very essence of Luke, his purpose and calling.

Anakin was rescued from slavery. Anakin was a mere boy when he met Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-wan Kenobi. Because Anakin was special he was taken from his home and mother to become a type of Galactic “Janissary” and serve the Jedi Order for life.

From the day he was born Anakin knew Fear, now he would learn to be a Jedi. Being Jedi was not what Anakin really wanted. A conflict between his heart’s desire and his duty raged relentlessly within Anakin. The imbalance tore him apart. Anakin was meant to be the “chosen one” but how could he? That’s what others wanted, not him. Anakin could not save himself let alone those he cared for. Eventually Anakin turned against the very people that bought him out of slavery and he destroyed everything in his path.

Luke found meaning as a Jedi. Anakin failed as a Jedi because he found no meaning in it other than the mission at hand. Anakin was never meant to be a Jedi.

 

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”  – Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

Fight Club

Recently I read “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk it remains the defining novel of my Generation. A “Catcher in the Rye” of Gen X. The story got me thinking about things. In many ways “Fight Club” is also a meditation for those in recovery from alcoholism. We lived in an illusion that was self imposed. We knew that that our lives were a shambolic prison. Like the Narrator we sought “something different”.

In the Fight Club the narrator is attempting to escape the hollow materialistic and hedonistic world he is bound to as a mindless consumer and wage slave. The Narrator is completely unsatisfied with his life and finds no meaning it any part of it. In his insomnia induced psychosis the Narrator creates an alter ego, Tyler Durden, the man he wishes to be. Tyler Durden is contemptuous of society and wants to destroy it and create a nihilistic utopia from its ashes. The consequences of letting Tyler in to his life are devastating for the Narrator.

The “Fight Club” is a call to our inner primordial self, a place where one can be completely unfettered. My alcoholic self was my alter ego, a personal Tyler Durden who eventually took over every aspect of my life. Like the Narrator I became hateful and I wanted to fight everyone and everything. In some ways it was a bliss, a refuge from the mediocrity and meaningless of living in the modern world. Complete abandon. In my aggression I thought I was enlightened. Booze set me free but like Tyler’s persona in the story it was nothing but a delusion, an escape from reality. I was riddled with angst.

Tyler forced the Narrator to end himself but in doing so he ended Tyler. The Narrator emerged a new person, a transcendent version of himself. He awoke to reality at last. My Alcoholic self tried to destroy me and I found my Higher Power and also emerged stronger for it. I also awoke to reality, not a utopia full of rainbows and unicorns but a cold hard slap in your face reality. It was pure relief.

 

Today is the sort of day where the sun only comes up to humiliate you.”  – Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

A Living

I work for a living. Since I left school I have worked first to provide for myself and then to support others. In many ways my purpose in life has always been to work. In the absence of alcohol my career took precedence. Work became a surrogate for booze in sobriety. Often my career came at the expense of things that matter more. Now I realize I am not made to work. I do not live to work, I work to live.

We put so much emotional investment in to defining and shaping our identity. One of the first things people ask is “what do you do (for a living)? Your answer will usually set the impression that people will have of you. Their profession defines who they are and your work defines you if not something else you spend a lot of time doing.

Meaning and status are vital for the human need of social acceptance. People need to know where they reside within the social hierarchy and what their purpose within it is. A profession, career, work provides all of these things. Those who are happy in their work and find meaning and purpose in their position are more likely to have positive emotions. Those who are dissatisfied with their position, their work and their status are more likely to carry negative emotions. Those that find themselves in an existence that conflicts with their inner purpose are conflicted within themselves.

 

“This is your life and it’s ending one moment at a time.”  – Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

 

Lobsters

Having status within the hierarchy is a human need rooted in a biological imperative that is hundreds of millions of years old. We have evolved to seek to climb the hierarchy and when we arrive at our potential we guard it against threats and defend our position from attack. This same behaviour is noted in every social animal from Humans to Wolves to Lobsters. Jordan Peterson in his seminal work “12 Rules for Life” talks a lot about Lobsters and describes this human need for self actualization in detail and how much of our emotional health and well being is tied to our social standing and our work.

The Human need for existential meaning goes beyond the need for a place within the social hierarchy or as Peterson call it the “Dominance Hierarchy”. We are more than Lobsters. Humans most of all yearn for meaning and seek purpose in their lives.

Even in the midst of calamity and tragedy a meaning to one’s suffering can be derived. This fundamental truth of human nature kept the Vienna Psychologist Viktor Frankl alive during his darkest years of captivity in the Nazi concentration camps. Because he deeply believed that he could define meaning from his suffering.

Commander James Stockdale spent seven years in a North Vietnamese prison suffering torture and the worst of deprivations but yet came out of it morally and spiritually intact. Despite the years lost, Stockdale claimed that the experience was life transforming. They found meaning through their experience and survived against the odds.

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.”  ― Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

Finding Meaning

Viktor Frankl relates in his book “Man’s search for Meaning” the story of a leading Viennese Doctor who arrested by the Gestapo began to proclaim his many credentials and qualifications. Showing the Nazi Officer his papers the Doctor emphasized his point that he was a man of great esteem and standing in the community. The German Officer took up all the papers and tore them up stating “Here this is all you are now! You are nothing!”.

The Doctor striped of his suit, his identity, dignity and privileged position in society died soon after in Auschwitz. The Doctor lost the will to live as he could find no meaning and purpose in life. In the Hanoi Hilton the communists did the same to their American prisoners and those who abandoned hope and lost meaning in the experience and purpose to their lives soon succumbed.

Those who shared the same experience but accepted it as an opportunity to find a deeper meaning and purpose survived and even thrived. They may have been beaten, tortured, starved and constantly humiliated but they kept possession of their mind and inner self. The Jailers could break their bodies but not their spirits. The prisoners had something that their tormentors could not take away; their will to meaning.

 

“If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?”
– Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

 

Logos

Frankl went on to publish his treatise on “Logotherapy” a therapy based on the “will to meaning”. The fundamental truth that people seek meaning in their lives to survive and grow. Self actualization through meaning is the leading motivator in a person’s life. Inner conflict and negative emotions are assured when an individual fails to find a sense of meaning in their life or when it is frustrated. It can also result when a person is forced in a direction that conflicts with his inner purpose, like Anakin.

Logotherapy was the result of Frankl’s experience in the camps and came together from scraps of paper that he kept hidden within his prison uniform. Commander Stockdale finished his career in the US Navy and contested the US presidential elections. The experience of his internment never stopped him from achieving his goals and made him a better person.

 

“The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

 

Trudging On

I work for a living. I have a career. One day I will stop working but life will not stop. Hopefully I will be able to retire to books and gardening. Perhaps there will be Grandchildren. In time the memory of my working years and the importance I placed on my position, education and career will fade. They call this retirement.

Tomorrow I could also get a call from my employer telling me that I have been made redundant. Like anyone else I could find myself on the street without position, status, money or a home. I could remain unemployed for months or even years and fall in to destitution. Would this loss of security and upending of my plans for a long career diminish me as a person? Am I my job, position, the model of car I drive, the clothes I wear and the house I call home? Do these things have any more meaning than what I give them?

 

“I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions, because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.”Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

Down but never Out

Although I’m ashamed of many things that I did as an Alcoholic in active abuse I have to concede that I’m glad I went through that and came out sober. Those years taught me a lot about my self. I had to fall to Earth to fly higher than before.

My career has provided a certain degree of financial security and pride in my abilities but it is my recovery that has and still gives my life real meaning. If I lose everything I can still choose to be sober. I can still find purpose and meaning in a Higher Power. Although they are all important, I am not my position, my status, education, property, relationships and I am certainly not my job.

 

“Look up at the stars and you’re gone.”Chuck Palahniuk,“Fight Club”

Be You

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I work for a living and I don’t work to live. I have to remind myself to loosen any attachments I have to my job, position, status, property or relationships. Any of these things could end at any time. A bad day could trip me up and find me back to drinking.

Being Jedi has meaning. Frankl said that the meaning of life is to find meaning and purpose in it even on the darkest of days. We have to start by taking responsibility for ourselves and for others. Jordan Peterson was also right in suggesting we should always stand up straight with our shoulders back. Tyler Durden ultimately had it wrong. The Jedi Order was definitely wrong about Anakin.

I have to be like Frankl or Stockdale and accept that the winds of fate may not blow in my favor but they will blow me somewhere. I should know they will and be prepared for that. That is the nature of Logos. I may call myself many things in this life, I will be many things but I am and always will be a recovered Alcoholic in training. That’s where I find meaning and purpose every day.

 

I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

Fives

Source: Lucas Films

Look around! We’re the one and the same; same heart, same blood. Your training is in your blood. And my blood’s boiling for a fight!” – Fives

In doing nothing men learn to do evil” – Cato the Younger

There are many tragic themes in the Star Wars saga. The Fall of Anakin Skywalker is one and the death of Obi-wan Kenobi is another. The betrayal of Ahsoka Tano is also tragic lesson. The death of Padmé Amidala and the separation of Luke and Leia as orphans unaware of their past and common destiny is a sad and tragic story.

The death of the Clone Arc Trooper Fives towards the end of the Clone Wars is particularly tragic as he died trying to prevent a terrible conspiracy from being realized. What made it more poignant was that Fives was a Clone Trooper that was thrust in to a destiny he had no control over. One that would ultimately lead to the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire. The story is also similar to that of Cato the Younger, who sacrificed his own life trying to save the Roman Republic from descent in to dictatorship.

 

The Clones

Thanks CT-27-5555. That was close.”

It’s Fives. The name is Fives!” – Echo and Fives

Fives was a Clone ARC Trooper and a loyal member of the 501st Legion. He was called “Fives” because of his number (CT-5555). Surviving multiple battles and demonstrating uncommon bravery Fives quickly became promoted and accepted in to the elite Advanced Recon Commandos (ARC). The Kaminoans had engineered and manufactured the Grand Army of the Republic to fight without pity or remorse and to die without hesitation in service to the Republic.

The Clone Army was a military asset purchased by the Galactic Senate to be used against the military might of the Separatist Alliance, the Droid Army. Being Clones with one purpose they were expendable and the Kaminoans took pride in the precision  of their creation.  They had created the ultimate fighting Force. The Clone Fives was a shining example of the Kaminoan product line. Each Clone was a number, however there was a problem; Fives was more than a number, he was different.

Clones were made to be the same in every way; the model soldier. The Kaminoans designed them to display little variability in behaviour and to follow orders without question or hesitation. Any differences were the result of inevitable genetic drift and personality development during training. These were considered defects. Variations that could be tempered through discipline and control biochips.

The Clones also held a secret which only the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, his apprentice Darth Tyranus and the highest ranks of the Kaminoans knew. Each Clone carried an inhibitor bio-chip which contained the orders for Protocol 66.  When that order was eventually given, every Clone that still carried the biochip in his head suddenly turned his weapon on any Jedi in the area and executed them without hesitation and without pity. They were programmed to become Galactic Storm Troopers once that switch was thrown. Only the Clones who had removed their biochips refused to carry out the orders. Some joined the rebellion.

 

No Ordinary Soldier

Fives was no ordinary Clone. Throughout his career he had questioned the morality and sanity of orders. The Clones were connected by a common genome and considered each and every Clone to be his brother. For Fives it was more than that, he truly cared for his comrades and was willing to risk his life for them.  Fives also had a deep respect and admiration for his Jedi superiors and made it a personal mission to protect them. The sentiment was reciprocated by those Jedi closest to him. Anakin Skywalker, Obiwan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano were amongst those he called friends.

 

Where is the honor in marching to our deaths?” – Fives

 

As Fives saw more and more of his comrades die and many for pointless reasons he began to question his identity and purpose. Fives believed that Clone were not expendable tools but living, breathing, sentients worthy of dignity, respect, free will and above all life. It was Five’s discovery of Protocol 66 which ultimately led to his demise as he sought to warn the Jedi of the plot to kill them. Fives had stumbled on an unspeakable truth and for that he could not be allowed to live.

 

The Last Roman

In much the same way Cato was betrayed by the corrupt Roman Senate.  The Rebel Army surrendered but was ordered slaughtered by Caesar. Cato had almost stopped Julius Caesar from becoming Dictator of Rome. Cato committed suicide rather than seek pardon from Caesar. The rebellion against Caesar  was defeated. This final defiant act was in line with his principles. Cato preferred to die than lose his liberty.

Had Cato succeeded the Republic would have survived. Caesar would never have taken power from the Senate and abolished the Republic.

 

In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty” – Cato (Joseph Addison Play “Cato”)

 

In the same way a single, solitary soldier who was meant to be programmed not to think exposed the greatest conspiracy in the Galaxy. The Jedi were blind to the truth and the Senate was easily manipulated. Only Fives saw it and he was a tragic figure when none believed him. If Fives had succeeded in his quest to unveil the truth, Protocol 66 may have never happened.  The Old Republic would have survived and Chancellor Palpatine would have been exposed for what he was, a Sith Lord.

 

I am not just another number! None of us are!” – Fives

 

The Power of One

Fives was the last known survivor of his Rookie Squad, “Domino”. Each of the Clones were genetically identical but also had unique personalities. When these personalities worked in tandem they were formidable warriors. Like Cato, Fives was the epitome of the Stoic and it carried him through the war.

Cato and Fives were both stubborn and tenacious, loyal and dutiful to their superiors and subordinates. Both soldiers displayed high moral integrity, resolve, strong leadership and led by example. Above all they distrusted corrupt politicians and incompetent leaders who only sought to serve themselves. Cato and Fives were sworn to protect the Republic. Living by principles was not an option but a duty. They both failed in their duties for reasons far outside of their control. The forces united against them were too great to overcome.

 

I know not what treason is, if sapping and betraying the liberties of a people be not treason.” – Cato the Younger

 

I’ve compared my own mental defect, the one where if I’m exposed to alcohol my personality undergoes a sweeping change, a sort of Protocol 66. With booze I am driven to do and say things that I have no control over. It’s like a switch is thrown in my head. I have to remember that alcohol was more powerful than me for most of my life and that only working the Steps and applying spiritual principle overcame it. Ultimately the only thing preventing me from another fall is reasoned choice and reliance on the Force.

Nations and Empires can rise and fall over night with or without our consent but one’s own mind is his own. It is the only thing we truly own. Every day we battle a cunning foe and that foe is our very self. Our better nature holds the high ground as long as reason prevails.

 

Do not expect good from another’s death.” – Cato the Younger

 

The Point

The point of mythology is to provide us with lessons through storytelling. The stories entertain us but they also provide a message. Sometimes that message is a warning. Star Wars serves that purpose and we take from it what we want. The fictional realm can hold a mirror to reality. We can also apply Philosophy to make sense of life. The tragedy of Fives teaches me that even someone who is just a number can still make a difference in the world. Even the most powerful can know the name of a humble soldier. No person is a number and freedom is a choice.

Star Wars is fiction but the story of the collapse of the Old Republic and the purge of the Jedi resembles the beginning of the death of the Roman Republic and rise of the Empire. Whether Lucas was aware of this historical similarity is irrelevant. The point is that it is in our power to change our own lives for the better, to seek truth and to challenge injustices like Cato and Fives did.

 

“Rex….this…it’s…bigger than any of us…than anything…I could’ve imagined….I never meant to…I only wanted to do my duty. The mission…the nightmares…they’re…finally…over….” – Fives

 

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Intention

A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” – Yoda

 

Symbols of Intent

The first thing most people imagine when they hear the word Jedi is Luke Skywalker or Obi-wan Kenobi with Light Saber in hand rushing towards an enemy as they deflect laser bolts. The image of the warrior is prominent in peoples mind. It is true that the fictional Jedi are armed with light Saber the same way Monks of the east and west were armed with staffs and martial arts to defend themselves. To imagine the Light Saber as a weapon of offense is an error in fact it was a symbol of the Jedi principle of protection and defense. The intent of the Light Saber is its power. It was only used as a weapon as a last resort and never in anger.

In “Return of the Jedi” Luke casts aside his Light Saber during the final confrontation with Darth Vader. The act is symbolic. Luke decided to cast his anger aside and find the love and compassion within him. It is the only way he can defeat Darth Sidious and redeem Vader.

In “The Last Jedi” the ageing Luke Skywalker takes the Light Saber offered to him by Rey after she has found him living as a Hermit on the hidden planet of Ahch-To. With comical irreverence Luke throws his old Light Saber behind his back.

For years Obi-wan Kenobi resided on Tatooine watching over Luke from a distance. Although he still had his Light Saber it was kept aside. Even in confronting the Sand People who had captured Luke Skywalker in “A New Hope”, Obi-wan Kenobi chose only to use the power of perception and his own voice in driving the Tuscan Raiders away in fear. The Light Saber is symbolic of the Jedi only if it used with Right Intent.

 

Lethal Intent

I’ve often heard the statement that firearms kill people. A gun can be used to kill a person however it is not the weapon itself that decides its end use. The intent to kill resides with the wielder. A sword can just as easily be beaten in to a plow than used as a weapon depending on the intention of the user.

Intention is therefore everything in the “why and how” we conduct our life. I can choose to own a Light Saber, a Gun or a Pit Bull Terrier.  The Light Saber replica won’t have much use but how I choose to manifest my intent with a gun and an “aggressive” breed of dog is entirely up to me. I can keep the gun locked away and hopefully never ever have to use it and I can train the Dog to be a loving pet; gentle with people and other animals. There is still an element of uncertainty based on what I have control over and what I don’t. The Dog may unexpectedly bite a child and the gun might be stolen and used in a crime.

 

Reasoned Intent

With every decision we make there is always an intent, a purpose. Why do we make the choices that we do? What is our intent? When I left High School and presented to an Army recruiter the first thing he asked me was “Why do you want to join the Army”? He said my response was important and it had to be honest. The answer revealed my true intention and whether I was going to stick my contract or wash out.

Likewise when I first approached the Jedi community and revealed I wanted to train in Jedi philosophy I was asked to spend some time thinking about “Why Jedi”. What was the intent of my choice? Would it sustain my practice past a few weeks or months? Did I realize it was an internal path and one I would have to keep largely to myself? I found that being able to reason rather than rationalize my intent before doing something was more likely to align it to who I am and want to be.

 

First things First

One of the most important questions I had to ask myself when I was drinking to excess was “Why am I doing this? What is the purpose?” There was no reasoned or even rationalized response. In the beginning the intent of my drinking had been to feel better within my self, to fill some emptiness inside. I wanted to be accepted and loved like everyone else and drinking seemed to promise a way into fellowship, confidence and acceptance.

Drinking could make me feel part of something bigger than myself and to be somebody who could be respected, admired and sought out. Of course this was all a mirage and I fell in to the trap and it took me to a dark place after all the illusions I had created began to fall away.  Something entirely different was revealed. An image that was unbearable to confront.

In the end, the intent of drinking was to satiate a need that could not be satisfied and to keep the beast within fed. It had become a cage. Realizing true intent was like lifting the veil that had shrouded the truth for years. I began to understand the true nature of my disease.

 

Failed Intent

All the times I had tried to quit or at least control my drinking in the past had eventually ended in relapse. In going on the “wagon” I had had good intentions but I could not follow it up with meaningful actions. My intent was also conditional on certain loop holes in thinking. Like small cracks in a dyke they eventually split open and allowed the entire structure to collapse in a flood of booze. Intention was moderated by rationalization. I figured I could still achieve my goal of sobriety with the odd loosening of the belt. This of course was a form of “False Intent”.

 

A Daily Reprieve

Where do your priorities lay? What is important to you? What matters most of all? In the beginning my intent was to simply get through the day without taking a drink. The next day could look after itself and the next day after that. My commitment was for 24 hours.

I would renew my intent every morning and claim the strength from my Higher Power to achieve that. At the end of the day I would review how things had gone and on turning off the light thank my Higher Power for another sober day. My goal was sustained and long-term sobriety and my dream was to realize serenity.

My intent was simply to claim a daily reprieve and stay sober one day at a time through application of certain virtues and principles. This was a form of “Right Intent”.

 

What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” – Alcoholics Anonymous p85.

 

Right Intent

The second step and virtue on the Eight fold path of Buddhism is “Right Intent”. Intention is more than resolve. Through resolve we decide to do something but it is not enough on its own. We must have “Right Intent” in order to stay the course. For example would anyone who resolves to marry another person bother if they did not intend to give the marriage their utmost for as long as possible?

Resolve and Intent are two different things and of course they work in tandem. Both must stay as strong as the day we set off for the duration of the journey. Yes there are days when we stagger and fall but intent keeps us moving forward even when resolve falters. We strive for outcomes but must also accept what is in our control as well as what is outside of it.

Intent in Action

Intention is flawed if our intent is;

  • To draw something to ourselves for selfish gain; or
  • to force something away through ill will;
  • or to do harm to ourselves or others.

To counteract flawed intention one’s intention must;

  • Be based on renunciation. We must be willing to let go of the causes of our suffering. Desires and clinging attachments to people, places, things, circumstance and flawed ideas tightly held all lead to suffering as they are impermanent and transient. Addiction is a form of rampant attachment. Luke Skywalker casting his Light Saber aside was a renunciation of attachment to old strongly held beliefs.
  • derived from good will. When we do things we essentially seek to serve others before ourselves. In the recovery program personal benefit is derived by helping others struggling with their addictions. Caring for others is a corner stone of Faith and many philosophies including Jedi Philosophy.
  • inherently harmless. In the 12 Steps amends are sought to people whom we have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. The Hippocratic Oath compels Doctors to “primum non nocere”, first do no harm. Compassion is a Jedi trait.

Right intent is expressed through thought, word and actions. Therefore being mindful of intention is important. We should consider the impact of our thoughts, words and actions on self and others.  The potential consequences either immediate or delayed should be considered. We may do something with the best of intentions but not realize the consequences of our actions until much later. By contemplating our actions and looking beyond outward far beyond ourselves we become more mindful of the reach of our intent.

Always ask what your intent is and whether it serves or not.

 

The Jedi Method

The Jedi Method is a formula used to apply mindfulness in our actions. Our desire is for an outcome which aligns with our values. The method states:

 

Intent + Action = Outcome

 

If our Intent is right and our actions follow suit than there is a high likelihood, while never guaranteed, that outcome will agree with action and intent. Action and Intent is applied in a world in which we do not exercise supreme control over all external factors. We cannot foresee the future or account for every single possible variable. We only have what we control (Intent and Action).

  1. Ask yourself before committing to an action “Could this action lead to suffering?” If the answer is “yes” reconsider it after applying ethics and your personal value system to a decision.
  2. During the action ask “Is this action causing suffering?” if so, then reconsider the need to continue or make adjustments that correct the error.
  3. After the action consider “Will this action lead to suffering?” if so, then seek to remedy, learn from it and avoid repetition in the future.

We live in an imperfect system and everyone makes mistakes. All that one can reasonably expect is that we take due diligence in our actions. We are accountable and responsible for the choices we make. If our intent is challenged we can defend our actions with conviction and without hesitation.

We take charge of the things that we can control, work with what we can influence  and we willingly surrender the things over which we have no control.

 

Surrender at Last

A Light Saber can be a weapon or a door stop depending on the intent of the user. Perhaps Luke Skywalker had learned towards the end of his physical existence that the mind is far more powerful than a weapon. The Last Jedi decided he no longer needed his Light Saber even for the purpose of protection.

On the Planet of Crait Skywalker faced his old apprentice and nephew, Kylo Ren, who was bent on killing him. Luke showed that one can still achieve an outcome without reaching for a Light Saber or without even being there. Victory can be won with the mind.

Across the Galaxy on the Island Jedi Refuge of Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker awoke from his Force projection and surrendered himself to the Force. As he met his destiny the twin suns set over the ocean.

Intent is the key.

Our Intention creates our reality” – Wayne Dyer

Codependency

Codependency is often described as a dysfunctional relationship that exists between two persons one or both of which may be in addiction such as alcoholism. The other person tolerates and facilitates that behaviour by remaining within the relationship despite the emotional, mental and even physical abuse that they suffer. Both participants in the relationship believe that they cannot live without the other. Both condemn themselves to a partnership that is built on anything but true love.

In reality Codependency is much more. A relationship that is held together out of fear or loss is a form of codependency. One person may lean on another person emotionally and be unable to validate themselves without the person. This is compounded if the other person also has emotional or psychological issues which compliment those of her partner.

Two damaged people bought together do not necessarily provide a solution or salvation. One of two things may happen; one of the individuals may grow emotionally and awaken to the fact that they are in an unhealthy codependent relationship that does not allow them to flourish. Otherwise the relationship may endure but simply out of a fear of being “alone”. The opportunity to find true love and to live a free and fulfilling life is compromised. This is not love but a form of bondage that ends in regret.

 

A Painful Truth

Some years ago I realized I am in a codependent relationship with my partner. I thought couples just had their disagreements and got over them. During my drinking these disagreements were fairly often but then I was very selfish and obstinate and only saw my side. Despite getting sober and working the steps I found I could not break this cycle of codependency. The relationship remains dysfunctional.

I found that despite the decades I spent being on my own I was now a virtual prisoner to my need to belong. I now find myself questioning the authenticity and honesty of the relationship but uncertain on  how to act. Is it fair to be in a relationship where deep within our own heart we know that whatever true affection and love existed has long been replaced with a mutual need for stability, security and familiarity? Is not being in the world alone more important than being in a true and nourishing relationship?

 

Emotional Maturity

There is nothing wrong with stability, security and familiarity. All of these are important in a healthy relationship. However a codependent relationship is categorized by an imbalance between two people. There are power struggles and each attempt to assert their control over the other. Disagreements occur and concessions are made by one side or another in order to maintain the peace. The result is resentment and anxiety. Open and honest communication breaks down. Couples become distant harboring private resentment for the failings they perceive in their partner. They blame each other for the unhappiness in their lives but they are unwilling to do anything. Despite all the ill feeling and pain both know that they cannot function alone. Freedom and happiness is traded in for stability, security and familiarity.

Emotional maturity was not a part of my sobriety in the beginning. I am still growing up. In other words I had not matured as an emotional person during my decades of alcoholism. I still had all the emotional maturity of a traumatized teenager and a lost young man trying to make sense of the world. Much to my surprise I realized not long ago that everything decent I had ever done was to get approval and love from others. To be accepted. Every spiteful or indecent act I had ever committed was to get back at them or others for perceived wrongs. This included getting drunk.

 

Child

Codependency in my case did not just happen later in life. I grew up with an alcoholic Father who himself had all the emotional maturity of a deprived child. Without another role model to learn from and no outside support becoming an accepting and active participant in the abuse was assured. A child will adapt quickly and learn to survive. As a child I begged my Father to be reasonable, sane and sober. I would put him to bed in the dead of night when he stumbled in to whatever doss house we lived in and pull off his boots. In the morning I woke him up and pressed him to go to work as he swore at me through a hangover. I hated him but he was still my Father and as such I needed him.

Natural emotions such as empathy and joy were dulled and replaced with fear, then anger and finally apathy. With apathy and time people start to identify with the negative influences in their lives and also begin to act them out. Emotional abuse, violence and cruelty become a part of who we are. I remember the cruelty I afflicted on my siblings as a child and on hapless victims in the school yard. I suffered at home and others had to suffer. Bullies beat me so I had to bully those that were weaker than me. The bullied often become the bullies. This still wears down on me heavily at times.

Growing up without a Mother and in the care of an abusive alcoholic Father had left me angry and vulnerable as a kid. We were thrown in to the State Care system as the Child Welfare people intervened. My sullen disposition attracted the wolves at school and being small in stature I was an easy target for bullying. I fought regularly and was in trouble often. I shoplifted and was smoking and drinking by age 11. The world looked like a hostile place to me and I was out in the cold. Desperate to find a place I could call home, I ran away and joined the Army as soon as I finished High School.

 

A Home

I took that anger in to the Army and they molded it and beat my vulnerability out of me. My weaknesses were removed and they built me up in to something useful. I cut all contact with my Father and never spoke to him again. The Army gave me a roof over my head, three meals a day, medical and dental, training and told me what I had to do and when to do it. It was simple and structured. For a long time I felt empowered and protected. I also felt like a bad ass. I was extremely fit, tanned and trained. Being part of something bigger than oneself does that. So does extra muscle mass and being trained in unarmed combat and Infantry skills. But it was shallow; there was a gaping hole there. I knew I didn’t belong in that world and rebelled. I found alcohol.

After an ignoble and unceremonious discharge from the Army a few years later I was back out on the street and completely alone. The Army had probably saved me from destitution and a hopeless future but I had barely matured in to an adult. I was dependent on the system to support me. I felt like an important part of me was torn away when I stepped outside the gates for the last time and the cord was cut. They had taught me to be a Soldier but not a functional and mature adult fit for normal life. I had entered barely 18 and at 23 I was on the street while many of my High School Friends were graduated from University and already in professional careers earning close to 6 figure salaries. I had no transferable qualifications other than in heavy drinking.

 

Barely Functional

Functioning and surviving in civilian life alone was an enormous challenge. People around me were phony and shallow. Their concerns and priorities were petty and made little sense. Employers seemed only to use and exploit young employees. The Jobs I took were mind numbing and low paid and I soon made enemies. There was no comradeship or mutual benefit. It was a dog eat dog world and I felt completely maladapted to it.

My anger and frustration would boil over and I quickly alienated and scared off people. Friends and acquaintances distanced themselves. I could not re-enter the Army, I had well and truly burned my bridges there. The answer was to move around a lot and get drunk as often as possible. I tried the Geographic solution and drowned it in alcohol. In order to eliminate any reliance on others and be completely independent I vanished overseas taking my problems with me as far as I could take them.

 

A Wife to the Grave

My relationship with booze took a new turn in civilian life. For a start I didn’t have to worry about trying to fit drinking around the Army. I learned I could arrange life to suit my drinking. As I did so I found myself becoming more dependent and less flexible with people, places and circumstances that got in the way of that relationship.

Alcohol is cunning and has a way of intruding in every aspect of life like a demented and obsessive lover. We know that the relationship is doing us harm but we remember the good times too. We cannot imagine being separated from alcohol. Our disease adopts a persona that is omnipresent and absolute in our lives. She is like a Succubus, a lover turned Demon who will not let us go. The relationship becomes entirely one sided. Alcohol will eventually take everything unless we break that hold first.

 

Emotional Sobriety

Recovery of course is breaking that dependence. The 12 Steps provided the pathway for me to do that. As my sobriety strengthened my personality began to change. Self honesty and humility allows us to review our actions in life and identify where we have been lacking. This provides the impetus to start maturing as a person. Emotional sobriety is the eventual outcome of practicing principles and working the steps.

Along the way we begin to review our relationships. Some of them present themselves as being dysfunctional or toxic and are ended. In my case my sobriety began to reveal dimensions and aspects of my relationship with my partner that I had never considered before. In our journey we take an honest view of our life and question where authenticity is lacking and where fear or resentment resides. We make amends for the harm we caused where we can.

Every major change in life comes with costs and benefits and recovery is no different. I began to realize that I had been in a relationship simply because I needed it when I was drinking and alone. The need to fulfill the need for a place to finally call home and to find someone was a way of addressing the void that had existed in me my entire life. It’s a trap many of us fall into, we think that others will complete us and we rely on them to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves. Once we get sober and sane the world becomes a different place and so do we. The illusions that we created for ourselves start to fall away and we see life in plain view.

Having emotional sobriety is realizing that only we can fill the void that resides within us with something deep and spiritual. We look at ourselves and realize we no longer need anyone. We may want them, but we no longer need them. It can come as a bit of a shock to realize that a long term relationship is built on the shifting sands of codependency. The sands are slipping away, being eroded with time. The trick of course is what to do about it. Do we let it go or start sand bagging?

 

Interdependency

I have a friend who is also sober and in a relationship that is interdependent, that is the opposite of codependent. I envy them. The couple compliment each other perfectly and neither is dependent on the other to be the person they want them to be. They support each other and understand each others needs. They are together because they want to be, not because they have to be or need to be. Both are free to express their own individual qualities in the way that best defines them.

The outcome is a trusting and mutually beneficial partnership built on mutual love and respect. Both are empowered, self sufficient and self determinant because the nature of their relationship encourages it. Communication is open and honest; laughter is a daily part of their lives. The relationship is vital like a breath of fresh ocean air.

 

Accept the things

I don’t have a definitive solution for my situation. My strategy is acceptance and to take the view “this too shall pass and better times shall come”. I keep my side of the street clean and live in accordance with my principles. Realizing that one’s relationship is in trouble is a good start but knowing is not doing. Being unable to do much about it without the willingness of the other person is a problem. Then things could always be much worse.  Things can seem bad and cause us pain but actually it is not the thing that does us harm but our reaction to it.

Being Jedi as well as being sober has taught me that we cannot force people to be one thing or another. They will decide for themselves and so should we for our own selves. We can try to improve situations through our own choices. If we are separated or divorced we can choose to be polite and civil to our estranged partner. There is no reason to answer one person’s bad behaviour or harsh words with more of the same. Promises should be kept and obligations met even if we would rather not comply. If someone lies to us we should not use it as an excuse to be dishonest in return. Children should never be used as a bargaining chip or held for ransom; they are innocent parties.

We may be stuck in a relationship that is dysfunctional and even terminal but we can still treat the other person with care, dignity and respect. Han Solo and Princess Leia set a good example. Married at the end of one war, separated decades later at the start of another. There was no animosity or blame between them. The fortunes of war and a shared love and concern for a very troubled son reunited them for a brief time. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in our relationships, we still have a choice to be a good person.

 

The High Ground

 

Art of War

In War the advantage of the high ground is constantly sought out. Seizing and holding high ground is often critical in a military campaign. One only needs to look to history to show how choosing to defend a higher position has resulted in a decisive victory. Federal forces under General Meade defeated the Confederacy at Gettysburg by holding the high ground. Napoleon was able to defeat the Prussians at Jena by attacking in flanking maneuver from a higher position.

The advantage gave both Meade and Napoleon a better view of the battlefield and further reach for their artillery, it also made life harder for the enemy. The Vietminh were able to over run the besieged garrison at Diem Bien Phu during the Indochina War by attacking from and holding the mountains that surrounded the valley in which the French were “ensconced” and subjected to months of withering assaults until they cracked. The Mujahideen in Afghanistan managed to wage a war against the Soviets and Afghan national army by drawing them in to the mountains where they held the advantage with guerrilla tactics and American weapons. The contemporary version of the Mujahideen, the Taliban, today uses the same tactics against their former allies, the Americans.

 

Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight” – Sun Tzu

 

Sun Tzu in the Art of War advises that military commanders should always seek to use the high ground to their advantage. This ideal has come to be used not only in military planning but also in business decision making. Companies that secure the high ground in the field of innovation, use of technology and adopting modern and ethical approaches to business such as diversity, sustainability and a proactive safety culture will often hold a competitive advantage and an adaptable culture. Inflexible companies that refuse to adapt to change or are sluggish in their attempts to keep up and innovate are left behind and out competed.

 

A Battle Ground

Holding the high ground in a tactical sense however does not always make sense. In small units the high ground is avoided unless it is a defensive position. Normally a good commander will read the terrain and use it to the best advantage. On patrol we would often lay up on high ground at night. Before dawn we would silently break camp and withdraw to a position that offered better protection and a means of escape. The tactic also was designed to throw off an enemy planning to attack at dawn.

Patrol commanders would take in to consideration factors such as observation, concealment, and means of escape and avenues of attack; sometimes the high ground is the last place you wanted to be. The advantage of air power and use of drones however has removed some of the advantage of being a militia or guerrilla force ensconced in the mountains as the current war in Afghanistan has shown.

 

A Word Weapon

An often used term is “moral high ground”. In society we see it a lot in arguments. It is a weapon used by both sides of a debate. For example, both pro-life and abortion advocates believe they have a “moral high ground” on the issue of abortion. The same applies with the euthanasia and same sex marriage debate in many countries.In the military the assimilation of females in to combat roles and the acceptance of LGBT divided the population in and out of uniform. Both sides claimed the “moral high ground”.

Progressive movements will often claim the High Ground in these social issues. Very often the term “moral high ground” is also used to excuse violence or intimidation in the name of a contentious issue. Claiming the moral high ground does not mean that an argument is correct unless you are a Sophist.  It also does not justify the use of violence. Unfortunately violence is still used as the power of advantage rests with the side that holds the high ground.

 

Remember back to your early teachings. “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Even the Jedi.” – Chancellor Palpatine

 

A Point of View

In the Star Wars sage the Jedi often claimed the moral high ground in their campaigns both military and political. Mace Windu and Qui-Gon Jinn were often predisposed to blur the lines of ethical conduct in order to advance the cause of the Jedi. The argument often put forward by the Jedi was that the use of deception, betrayal and subterfuge was in the interests of the Republic and for the “common good”. The morality and ethics of such actions were tenuous at best. This fact was not lost on Palpatine who ironically often used and played the Jedi for his own nefarious ends.

We often hear such lines being used in the real world. Companies use it when they lay off hundreds of staff for the “common good”. When our government takes us to war they do it in the “national interest”. They use the moral high ground to place legitimacy over an irrational argument. Much later we are left wondering how it could have happened. The real question should be “what is the moral high ground”? Who defines it? Is it valid?

 

Good is a point of view, Anakin. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.” – Chancellor Palpatine

The false High Ground

Anakin had been in many fights over the years and many of these battles had seen him and his opponents seek to take advantage of higher positions. Whether on foot using a light sabre or in a fighter Anakin always vied to take the higher ground by out maneuvering and outwitting his opponents.

Confronting Ob-wan Kenobi on the lava flows of Mustafa, Anakin was faced with a dilemma and sought to counter it with a reckless move that almost cost him his life. Obi-wan had the high ground and offered Anakin the chance to surrender and live. Metaphorically speaking, Obi-wan also held the “moral high ground”. By confronting Anakin he was not only attempting to stop the rise of the Sith and the fall of the Jedi Order, he was also trying to save his friend. Both seemed to be noble causes in the context of what we believe. The outcome however was that Obi-wan Kenobi was unable to accomplish either of these objectives.

 

Casualties of War

Taking the moral high ground has pit falls. It can blind us to the “bigger picture”. We take one view and refuse to consider alternatives or opposing arguments. Very often a deep seated “righteousness” pervades an opinion. It does not matter if it is right or wrong, true or false, the only thing that matters is that it is must prevail. Objectivity followed by honesty is often the first casualties on the fight for the “moral high ground”. Arrogance is a flaw that often develops in the belief that a view is superior to all others.


The Higher Objective

Have the high ground means being better able to view the landscape and appreciate the situation for what it is. From a higher vantage we can look down at people or we can help them up to stand beside us. The goal should not to be to hold the moral high ground in order to defeat or belittle others. The goal should be to take that person to the higher vantage point so that they can see the truth for themselves.

Being recovered means we can place a high value on sobriety and clean living. We can also value virtues in ourselves and others such as honesty, humility, benevolence and selflessness. Although we are better we do not act better than others.

Being sober does not give me the right to take a moral high ground at the expense of others especially if I consider my history. No one has the right to take a moral view and consider others lesser than themselves because they fail to make the grade. It would be wrong for me to judge an alcoholic who is desperate and hopeless; I was near enough there once myself. It may be easy to judge a homeless person pan handing in the street who looks young enough and fit enough to be working but it would be wrong. We cannot know what fate put him there. Some of us have hit the skids before and know the bite of poverty and acute apathy. A few of us have slept rough, begged for booze and money or searched for food in rubbish bins.

 

Falling Down

We should always be mindful before taking the High Ground. The fall from our lofty tower might be great when our views are laid bare as false. Having strong opinions on matters can make us feel potent and powerful but they also leave us open to scrutiny and judgment by others. When we are forced to defend our position we can find that our argument does not hold and our defenses have major weaknesses. We fight to hold the high ground and we lose ground. As our defenses crumble so do our firmly held beliefs and with them our self esteem and confidence.

 

It’s over Anakin, I have the high ground” – Obi-wan Kenobi

In that dramatic scene on Mustafa, Obi-wan tells Anakin it is over. Filled with hate and rage, Anakin attempts to leap over Obi-wan and out flank him. The move is a fatal one and Obi-wan’s light sabre flashes and catches Anakin mid air amputating both his legs. Anakin rolls away and comes to rest by a lava flow his skin badly seared by the heat soon bursts in to flames. He screams in anguish, pain and rage.

 

Surrender the Higher Ground

In the end it did not matter who had the high ground on Mustafa. Anakin was reconstructed as Darth Vader and Darth Sidious assumed the role of Emperor. The Jedi Order was destroyed but for few survivors and a scattered rebellion emerged from the ruins of the Republic. Over the decades of war that followed both sides would claim the moral high ground in their struggle over the other. Obi-wan exiled and alone with his memories might have pondered the merit of his beliefs and questioned whether they had been firmly placed on high ground after all.

The idea of a moral high ground is based on what society values. Our parents, friends, teachers, religious instructors and leader, elected leaders and peers all help form our moral views. We hold on to them and build our fortress upon their foundation. How often do we question them, how often do we ask if they are right?

The first thing to ask is “what are my moral high grounds”. The next thing to ask is whether attaching ourselves to an inflexible view point helps or hinders our cause. Would it be better to loosen the bonds of opinion slightly and to critically assess them? Instead of focusing on the failings of others should we not be looking at our own faults? Where there is conflict and hate do we assign blame on the others only or do we also look at the part that we have played? Is there room for compromise and mediation, can common ground be found? Sometimes it can, sometimes it cannot but by engaging in dialogue there is always a chance of a spark of understanding to emerge. The only way to find out is to walk down from the high ground across no mans land and speak with the enemy. The way to peace and forgiveness may be to surrender the High Ground.

The best conversation is rare. Society seems to have agreed to treat fictions as realities, and realities as fictions; and the simple lover of truth, especially if on very high grounds, as a religious or intellectual seeker, finds himself a stranger and alien.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Cave

Five Years

Today marks five years of sobriety in my life. I look back at that time and I ask myself have I come far? Am I a better person? Is it worth it? If I am honest with myself I can respond with some conviction “yes” to all of these questions. When I look at the person am I now compared to whom I was five years ago the change is remarkable. This process of change has not been dramatic but gradual. Change has not come over night but has been achieved through incremental progress, “one day at a time”.

Has it been hard? It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Becoming sober and trying to achieve a measure of emotional sobriety has been a roller coaster ride. The good news is that anything that we strive for, anything worth doing is rarely a walk in the park. Sobriety is no different. Most days we are getting by fine but we keep up the pressure and test ourselves. By never resting on our laurels and by applying principles in all areas of life and by being true to our values we prepare ourselves for those tough times when we need to dig deep. Philosophy helps us to get there.

 

“There is no success without hardship” – Sophocles

 

Life is a Wrestle

The Stoics understood the purpose of philosophy. They committed to applying their philosophy every waking hour. It was not a tool they used when they needed to draw inspiration or use a handy “get out of jail free card”.

 

“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.” – Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius compared life to a wrestling match. A wrestler is able to move gracefully and with purpose. The Wrestler is aware of his surroundings and can move through time and space with ease like a dancer. At the same time a Wrestler can anticipate an attack and if taken off guard can quickly recover from an assault, break a hold and turn the table in his favor. Using strength, flexibility, agility, momentum, technique, courage and intelligence the Wrestler prevails over his opponent.

Unless we take our philosophy for life and apply it, practice it and make progress constantly we will not benefit. We should learn from mistakes and strive to improve so that we do not become complacent and untrained. We are less likely to handle the adversities of life, be it an opponent in the ring, a sudden crisis, a tragic event or even a petty inconvenience that raises our ire if we are ill prepared.

Being sober has been five years of “train hard to fight easy”. I have had to wrestle mostly with my own failings. I have worked the 12 Steps and applied my principles and values in order to recover.   Working the Steps and being Jedi has enabled me to manage my anger, fear, anxiety, resentment and self pity.

 

The Cave

In many ways the last five years has been a solo journey.  I have had to face many challenges and confront many fears and a great deal of doubt and pain alone. My family has been there and there is also a fellowship to learn from but ultimately any one who passes through their personal Dagobah Cave must do so alone. When Luke Skywalker confronted his dark side in the Dagobah Cave he did so by himself. Yoda knew what Luke would face there; he too had faced his own personal Demons and conquered them.  Yoda also knew that Luke had to face the cave alone.

 

“What will I find in there”? – Luke Skywalker

“Only what you take with you” – Yoda

 

The Dagobah Cave scene was a symbol of the human need for self exploration and self knowledge. We all want to know what resides within ourselves every flaw and fault as well as every virtue. When I embarked on my journey or recovery I did not know myself. I thought I did but it was an illusion. The person I saw when I looked in the mirror was not the person that other people saw. What I believed others saw in me was not a reality either. I lived in self illusion and dishonesty.

Only by having the courage to confront myself and reveal all of my faults and flaws to another and to my Higher Power was a clear picture presented. I was appalled by what I saw but I also knew I did not have to be that person any longer.With self-knowledge  I could change but I had to want to and be prepared to do the work.

 

The essence of knowledge is self-knowledge” – Plato

Catharsis

In order to change sometimes we have to be prepared to undergo a personal catharsis first. For me it was hitting rock bottom and then finding a way out as I surrendered to a Higher Power. It was not the first time I had experienced a transformative experience. The death of my Mother when I was seven was traumatic and confusing. The years I spent in orphanages, juvenile foster care and living with an abusive alcoholic taught me about survival and the value of human dignity and justice. Service in the military and years as a homeless itinerant after discharge taught me about the wider world and showed me the best and worst in others and in myself. Alcoholism too was an important school of life.

 

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” – CS Lewis

 

All of these experiences were personal Dagobah Caves; trials on the journey of life. All of them carried poignant and powerful impacts on my life that shaped my character and my destiny. Those experiences carried important life lessons which have made me who I am today.

 

“Self knowledge puts us on our knees, and it is very necessary for love. For knowledge of God gives love, and knowledge of self gives humility” – Mother Theresa

 

 

The School of Life

If my alma mater is the school of hard knocks, then the last five years of sobriety has been the most powerful graduate school I could have ever hoped for. The prize has been emotional, mental, physical and spiritual growth. Recovery teaches us a great deal about ourselves and others. We are taken beyond the limits of what we thought was humanly possible. Much of the time we are swimming against the tide.

There are  years or decades of reinforced behaviors, ideals, bias and sacred cows to overcome before we can progress. The requirement is a complete overhaul of who we thought we were. We have to stop looking outside ourselves for faults and excuses but look inwardly at how we have made our lives. For many this can be confronting and frightening. Some of us fight it and resist but we know that we must enter that dark cave and put trust in our Higher Power. We must enter alone and face the truth, only then can we emerge victorious.

“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.” – Dalai Lama

 

Life Contract

Tomorrow I will wake up to another sober day. God willing there will be many more. I like to believe that I will see this life through without sliding back in to alcoholism. The future is uncertain and far better people than me have relapsed so I don’t take my life for granted. Even the most promising Jedi can turn to the dark side and become Sith. If I can continue the upward march towards a higher vantage point that never ends till the final breath I will be contented. There is still much work to do; there is no five year contract on sobriety or personal betterment. It is a life contract with my Higher Power.

We should never be complacent. I will not rest because of a milestone. It is only another day. Aurelius believed that his Legionnaires should train as hard in peace as they did in war. So should we. As Jedi we are compelled to train and to improve ourselves, it is our personal duty. While we drop our guard our opponents are watching and waiting for an opportunity. Our addiction is outside doing push-ups while we get comfortable in our complacency.

If we work at it a little at a time, day by day, consistently without repose we see the change that we seek not just in ourselves but in others too. Improvement happens incrementally. We work and do what we have to do, rather than what we want to do.

A philosophy for life is for life and to live well is to do so without struggle and without rush. We only live one day at a time and deal with one obstacle at a time, with each step we climb higher. Consistency and commitment is everything. Faith keeps us there. Remember it took Yoda nearly 900 years to reach enlightenment. Enjoy the ride and also take the time to smell the roses, you worked for them.

Jedi believe in Justice

Jedi believe in peace and justice

Jedi are the guardians of peace and justice, so we certainly believe in promoting them. Jedi deeply believe in finding peaceful solutions to problems if possible. Jedi are expert negotiators, and try to solve problems without fighting. Jedi embrace justice, which means protecting and preserving the basic rights of others. Empathy is important too, because without it, Jedi can’t understand how others feel when they are injured by injustice.

(33 Jedi Traits)

The fictional Jedi inspired millions of people. That inspiration was because the Jedi were portrayed as selfless heroes who willingly gave themselves to a purpose greater than themselves. They were the “good guys” who could be relied upon to uphold Justice and get things done and to save the day.

Society reveres its selfless heroes and always has. Their example can be found in timeless stories told in literature and in movies. As children many of us wanted to grow up to be like them and to serve and protect. Once it became apparent that Jedi was not a professional option, we wanted to be the next best thing; soldiers, marines and airmen, fire fighters and police officer or the town Sheriff. Some of us became those professions or found other ways to help people. Role models were seen as being those who were forthright, reasoned, fair, courageous and strong. A strong sense of justice was seen as a virtue.

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst” – Aristotle

One of the greatest challenges of our time is how do we define a hero, someone who can be described as a guardian of peace and justice. The world has become a cynical place and the definition of a hero is not as clear as it once was. One person’s definition of justice will differ to the next.

 

Social Justice

Societal views and social justice causes move as quickly as feeds on social media. Each day we find another “hashtag” to jump on to in support. Depending on where you look the compelling issues of the day are racial  and gender equality, freedom of sexual expression, freedom of speech, minority rights, environmental defense, ecological justice, marriage equality, black lives matter, all lives matter, anti-globalization, save the whales, animal rights, welcome the refugees, stop the war, redistribute wealth, land rights, political freedom, media rights, the list goes on ad inifitum.

The voices for change and justice are marred with anger and frustration, hostility and divisiveness.  One is no longer able to sit on the side lines. Opinions are judged and to be silent or neutral is to attract as much admonishment and anger as the opposing view. Some views are not to be considered, especially when they contradict popular opinion.

Righteous indignation has become the norm on both ends of the spectrum as has violence.  Progressives resemble conservatives in more ways than they realize. For a World that calls for justice we have become judgemental on all but ourselves. Perhaps the world needs less judgement and more open discourse and forgiveness.

“Social Justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create” – Pope John Paul II

Be the Change

Most of us abide by the law. We want to see justice. As we observe others breaking the law we demand rectification. When we stretch the  boundaries of the law ourselves be it on the road or in our tax return we expect concession and if bought to account, mercy. Justice goes both ways. What example do you set?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi

The best Leaders I have ever followed were consistent but adaptable to change, fair but firm in their principles and reasoned in their approach. At the same time they were open to ideas and never so inflexible that they were unwilling or unable to listen to the other person’s view point.

Being Jedi is being an example. A Jedi holds views and opinions but is not above admitting when they are wrong or conceding that the world is an imperfect place and so is our world view. Jedi are reasoned, they are not zealots who demands rigorous conformance to dogma. Jedi talk the talk and walk the walk, they lead by example.

Open Minded

Once upon a time I was highly defensive in my views. I believed that issues such as climate change and whaling for example were clear cut, black and white. If you engaged me in a reasoned debate on the topic my argument soon fell apart through lack of authority on the subject. I had attached myself to a dogmatic view and while claiming to be Scientist I only bothered to look at the Science which supported my view. Anything that potentially questioned that view point was either ignored or ridiculed as being false.

No matter which way you look at it, the truth is the truth. We can disagree all we want and demand an alternative but that does not change the truth.

Keeping an open mind and a sense of objectivity opens ourselves to being able to drive towards inclusive change. We all live in this world together and to deny others their opinions, no matter how offensive they may seem, closes the door for reasoned debate.

Whether we agree with the views of others or not, we must try to understand where they are coming from and the reason they hold the views that they do. Social injustice and inequality has a wide net and often we find that opposing sides have more in common than we care to admit.

“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same” – Albert Einstein

Sacred Cows

In recovery I have learned to question some of my “sacred cows” be they around politics, environment or current affairs. My views were once highly polarized but now I am able to listen to both sides of the debate and recognize that there is always more to learn and nothing is ever really black and white. This extends to my recovery. I cannot stand back and judge someone in addiction who is making bad choices and causing harm to themselves and others. I was once like that, even though I thought there was nothing wrong. It was only until I faced the truth did I realize how badly mistaken I was.  My reaction now is more along the lines of empathy for the person and concern for the behavior.  I know that if I can change for the better so can most people.

Reality is actually millions of shades of grey, extremism is a departure from reality. Unfortunately extremism hold a radically “black and white” view and seems to gain more public attention than they deserve. Extremism is often coupled with violence which is a depart from reasoned debate and compromise.

The good news is that most people do not see violence as a solution to problems but a part of the problem. Violence is never justified as a means to an end, no matter how important we think it is. Any situation which results in the creation of victims only sows the seeds for future conflict. To be Jedi is never to accept extremism and to abhor violence in all its forms.

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace” – Martin Luther King

 

Forgive to Set Free

Forgiveness is another concept I have learned in recovery. Making amends made me realize that most people are not only able to forgive past wrongs, they want to. I always thought that resentment and grudges was a normal and universal state of being that all people had all of the time. Of course that is not the case.

Being forgiven by others made me want to forgive those I perceived as having done me wrong. I have come to realize that most people don’t seek to be disagreeable. Most people do not openly seek conflict. Hatred is not a normal part of our makeup. We are all born the same and only invent our differences later on usually through fear inspired by falsehoods appearing real.

Most of my grievances with people were imagined. In some cases I could see the world in the eyes of my detractors once I imagined myself in their shoes . I had hated my Father for example, but now as I saw that he was simply acting out what had been done to him and passed down through generations. The fear and anger could stop with him. The sins of the Father need not be visited on the son.  I forgave my Father and released that karmic cycle. I was freed from a lifetime of guilt and pain.

“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Live and Let Live

The solution to all the conflict and hatred in the world is forgiveness and acceptance of our diversity. We need not agree all on things but we can choose to disagree agreeably and respect the other person. The world can still be a kaleidoscope of views, opinions and beliefs without causing harm to one another. Remember Justice is a two way street. If someone disagrees with us that is their right. Their opinion of us in none of our business. We keep our side of the street in order. We “Live and Let Live”.

There are some simple ways we can demonstrate a sense of reasoned justice in our daily lives. We can lead by example and show others that we are not inflexible or rigid in our views. One can still champion the cause of social justice through protest and lobbying without succumbing to the emotions such as fear, anger and hatred.

  • Treat all people fairly;
  • Allow people the opportunity to be heard;
  • Respect the person’s right to an opinion even if you disagree with it;
  • Seek common ground;
  • Play by the rules;
  • Speak up if something is unfair or unjust.

 

Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle” – Martin Luther King