Hatred

The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.” – Yoda

Hatred is a powerful emotion and uniquely human. No other animal displays hatred. Unlike anger, which is a transitory emotion eventually burning out, hate will endure the test of time and be as potent as the day it rose. Hate is a disease that eats away at the soul and spreads far and wide covering everything in darkness.

Hatred flows in the blood. Hate is a living thing; it is passed on like a curse from one generation to the next. Wars, ethnic genocide, religious violence, terrorism, and oppression are all forms of Hate. In its purest form hate is devoid of emotion or passion. There is no anger or pride. The very emotion removes all humanity and commonality with the object of one’s hatred. Hate is the complete absence of love. There is no chance of mutual respect, cooperation, and trust where hatred exists. Redemption is impossible. To Hate is to separate.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

In the last month all I have seen is war and hate. It is pervasive and the world is awash with it. Where before I saw fear in people’s eyes as they contended with wave after wave of media hysteria related to the ongoing pandemic, I now see hate. At the same time the drums of war are beating as angry voices clamor for action and retribution. Fuel is being thrown on the Fire and it threatens to consume us all.

I know what Hate is. It is suffering. I lived in a household where the memory of ethnic and fraternal bloodshed was deep rooted, “the other” was the eternal enemy that had to be destroyed. The hatred of “the other” was fuelled by alcohol. A fire needs its fuel even if it burns the house down. In 1991 I saw that hatred explode into a horrific war that turned neighbour against neighbour and pitted brother against brother. Thirty years later I wonder has the world learned anything as it slides once again toward the heart of darkness.

Yoda saw Hate as the final descent into the Dark Side. Hate eclipsed any flicker of hope. The door has been slammed closed to the divine nature of the Force. There is no light, only darkness.

To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.” – Yoda

Anakin was driven to the Dark Side through the hatred that grew within him like some insidious tumor. The fire of Mustafa ravaged his body, but hatred utterly consumed his soul.

Anakin’s Grandson, Kylo Ren, suffered the same affliction. Ren’s hatred was so deep that he became a psychopath. Hatred had driven Luke to almost kill his nephew Ben Solo. Believing himself entitled to Justice Kylo Ren derived sadistic pleasure and satisfaction in hunting and murdering those who had been close to him, who had hurt him. Hatred spurned him on but as it grew deeper it consumed him.

Anakin driven to insanity and complete loss of identity with his transformation to Vader suffered deeply. Vader was tortured physically, mentally, and spiritually with every breath. The Hatred was complete and transformed itself into raw power. The Shadow Form, the Dark Side dominated him. Vader no longer hated anyone or anything other than himself and his Master. In Vader lay no festering ordinary hatred. There was only a will to dominate and control all that is within a closed fist of absolute power. All of Vader’s will and intent was directed there.

Oh. Great warrior. Wars not make one great..” – Yoda

Children learn to Love before they learn to Hate. Within our true self resides unbounded Love. That is why when we carry Hate we know that it is not who we are. It feels unnatural and heavy like a sickness within us. The feeling of “righteous indignation” and anger it gives us is shallow and leaves us feeling hollow and in conflict with who we truly are.

As an alcoholic I was prone to hate. I hated others, my life and God. Fear became, anger became hate. Surrendering my life to a Higher Power meant letting go of Hate. Although at times I get scared, resentful, or angry I find it impossible to Hate like I did in active abuse. The emotion is draining and like drinking alcohol it no longer brings pleasure or satisfaction, only a feeling of revulsion and regret. Now when I go online and see the Hate that pervades social media and news comments, I feel repulsed at the realisation that people feel empowered by their “righteous hatred” more than the vitriol they spew forth. Hatred is an illusion and a sickness of perception.

Then came war. In our arrogance, join the conflict swiftly we did. Fear, anger, hate. Consumed by the dark side, the Jedi were.” – Yoda

When we open our eyes to the illusion of Hate, it becomes exposed for what it is. Hate is a wall that separates us completely from our inner divine more than any other emotion. Hate separates us from our true nature and from other people. Like a cancer it grows and ultimately it destroys us from the inside out. If you strike with hatred in your heart it will stay with you forever like a dark stain.

Love conquers Hate. It was an act of Love that redeemed and saved Anakin from his living hell. Love stayed Luke’s hand from inflicting a fatal blow on Ben Solo. Luke invited Kylo Ren to strike him down but warned him to do so with Hate would afflict him forever. Love was the final act which finally saved Kylo Ren and brought order to the Force.

There is enough Hate in the world. Do not add to it. Conquer Hate and never give in to it. Give Peace a Chance.

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-wan Kenobi

War

This post was published on 27 July 2017. As the clouds of war gather in Europe and the world one again faces the real threat of nuclear conflict I thought to repost now. MTFBWY.

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“Wars not make one great.” – Yoda

A Zero Sum Affair

No matter what our politicians and leaders tell us, wars do not solve problems and they certainly do not make people or nations great. The killing of another human being no matter what the justification is never easy, we are not programmed to take life. Yes, there are heroes in war, acts of bravery under fire that are celebrated and remembered. War can bring out the best and worst in people but it should never be glorified. Very few veterans will relish war and only a fool brazenly seeks it. Speak to someone who has seen war up close and they will tell you it is never pretty and it is a waste of life an d treasure. For this reason it should always be a last resort and one that is never taken lightly by those that send others to fight.

As a society we seem to have become increasingly conditioned to war. It seems we are in a perpetual state of war while preparing for future conflicts. Today the United States is directly involved in conflict in no less than 15 countries on five continents. We have 300 bases in over 70 countries. A dangerous military build-up is also occurring between historic Cold War foes that is devoid of any of the mutual respect and constructive dialogue that existed forty years ago. Distrust, division and accusation prevails. Our world is headed to a precipice and indeed the Doomsday Clock overseen by a panel of international Atomic Scientists was recently adjusted to 2½ minutes to midnight, the closest to the point of Armageddon since 1953.

Last Resort

What can we do about any of this? Unfortunately not much. The Stoics suggested that in life there will be many things that disturb us of which we have no control. We can emote on a subject, we can commiserate on how terrible the loss of life in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine is due to conflict or bemoan the degradation of the global environment. Worrying or emoting about events that we have no control over does not alleviate the suffering or change a thing. If we can act, we do what can be done otherwise we focus on our place in the world and those that rely on us. We attend to our own battles at home and strive to make a better life.

The Fictional Jedi were keepers of the Peace but were sworn to protect the Republic and defend it. Being a real world Jedi means knowing which battles to pick and only ever accepting violence as a last resort and primarily in self defence, never attack. A Jedi abhors violence.

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

 Soul Wars

Carrie Fisher once compared her battle with mental illness as akin to being in a war. The analogy was not intended to belittle the sacrifice of veterans who had fought in Afghanistan but to highlight the nature of the struggle she endured for years. Many of us fight our own inner battles, the prize of victory is survival and defeat ultimately means death. The courage needed to survive addiction and recover should never be understated it also takes a tremendous amount of balls.

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside).” – Carrie Fisher

Alcoholics are not facing an enemy on a battleground or the threat of IEDS, they are confronting their own darker side. In recovery we change our lives utterly and in ways we could never have imagined.

A Crowded Hour

Soldiers are given medals for acts of heroism in the face of danger. Storming a machine gun nest, pulling a wounded comrade to safety while taking fire, jumping in to a burning vehicle to pull out unconscious casualties all take a tremendous amount of guts. The ordeal will last from seconds to hours. The “crowded hour” that Soldiers who have experienced in battle will know as the euphoria mixed with terror that is as addictive as a drug.

“Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!

Throughout the sensual world proclaim,

One crowded hour of glorious life

Is worth an age without a name.”

Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730-1809)

When the dust settles and the adrenaline wears off the Hero Soldier will be unable to explain his actions, he will simply state that his training and instincts kicked in, there was no time to think, just act. A true Warrior will never claim that war has made him “great”.

Uncommon Valor

We Alcoholics also faces a momentous challenge in overcoming our addiction and starting the long road to recovery. In Step 1 we must admit our powerlessness to alcohol and accept that a spiritual solution is the only path. For many this can require rejecting a life time of prejudice and accepting something that before was completely unfathomable. We must dig deep and inventory our history all of our faults and all of the harm we have done others. Having admitted our faults to ourselves we must admit them to our Higher Power and another person. With our past clearly laid bare we must be willing to put it behind us and resolve to change and become who we want to be.

Our actions must agree with that resolve; we seek out those we have harmed and we make amends. We forgive others and we finally forgive ourselves. Living one day at a time we seek to improve ourselves and grow spiritually as well as mentally and emotionally. Our attention moves outwards and we seek to serve others, helping where we can.  The journey can be terrifying but we find a type of courage and inner strength that endures and we change. It takes uncommon valor.

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32

Whoever answers the call of duty should never be condemned and those that make the ultimate sacrifice should never be forgotten but always honoured. War should always be regretted and never glorified. Never forget too that we as alcoholics face our own battles on a daily basis, often alone and without support. Our effort is worthy and honourable. We may not think it “great” but your recovery is a small light in a dark world, you are making the world a better place.

World betterment through self-betterment” – The Jedi Circle

Fears

(Source: Wall Paper Flare)

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” – Yoda

Fear is one of the strongest emotions a human can experience. Fear is as primordial as life on Earth and ingrained in our biology. An element of fear underpins much of what we do and motivates us into action that ensures survival and well-being.  Without Fear you would not be motivated to care for your health, seek out food and shelter or defend yourself against attack. You could not survive without the “Fight and Flight” response which fear elicits when it ignites the adrenal gland and fills the body and brain with adrenaline. Fear can be beneficial, but it can also be devastating.

Fear can make us do things that we would not normally do. Fears, imagined and real will convince us to accept treatments we would otherwise never consent to. It compels us to acquiesce to rules, mandates and restrictions no matter how severe or oppressive, without question. Fear is the the leverage others will use to deny us of our freedoms and liberties and do so with our full willingness. Until you have lived in Fear every day of your life you cannot begin to understand how powerful it is in shaping who you are. You cannot understand the power Fear has over your life.

“If you make decisions out of fear you are more likely to be wrong.” – Ahsoka Tano

Imagine being at the mercy of another human being. You live under constant fear of being punished and abused physically and mentally any time. Your loved ones are held in ransom and routinely abused in a similar way. You have no idea of what will happen and have no control over your life. Imagine being a slave living in Fear. It would be terrifying and soul destroying.

The child Anakin was a slave and grew up in an environment that was brutal and cruel. Anakin was not allowed to have a childhood and had to work to earn his keep and avoid punishment. Fortunately for the young Human he was intelligent beyond his years and already a skilled pilot before he was ten. Anakin’s owner, Watto, was able to profit from the boy which bought Anakin a measure of freedom that other slaves did not enjoy.

When Yoda met Anakin, he sensed the Fear and an emerging darkness in the boy. The Force was strong in Anakin but so was the fear he had grown up with. Fear can reside deep within for decades. With time it grows and shapes like a cancer. Life becomes haunted by fears both real and imagined. Fear manifests itself in poor choices, anger, resentments, aggression, ignorance, and hate. It did so with Anakin, as Yoda feared it would and Fear consumed him utterly.

Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi.” – Yoda

Myths and legends remind humanity of the consequences of giving in to Fear. Most of the fears that are experienced are imagined. You fear an idea, an illusion, a nightmare, or a thing not yet realized rather than reality. People are terrified to leave their homes convinced that they may fall victim to crime or terrorism. The constant bombardment of the exaggerated dangers of a virus in the news and social media has led to a mass formation of social psychosis that has created a traumatised generation. People no longer consider the actual risks in their lives, they are willing to accept anything that may take the perceived danger away. They suffer in their minds more than in reality, in anticipation of something that will likely only ever occur in their imagination.

Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda

The Hero overcomes her fear by confronting it. She will throw open the door on which fear beats and find nothing there. The Hero will stop running from fear and turn to face it. What was tangible, insurmountable and undefeatable turns out to be a harmless illusion that quickly fades away. The Hero realizes at the end that the greatest challenge is overcoming one’s own fears. True courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue on despite it. The Hero’s Journey is all about overcoming your fears.

Being alcoholic and a survivor of an abusive childhood I know what it is to live in Fear. I also know that Fear kept me back from doing so much in life. Every day lived in Fear is a day wasted. Living in Faith of a Higher Power has dulled that Fear by turning it over. I no longer have to be afraid of things that I do not control. My own Fear is a choice that I can control. I can take action and make decisions based on reason, not on Fear.

I used to be afraid, all the time. Then I realized that a decision based on fear is usually the wrong one.Ahsoka Tano

Fear is a natural response to a threat. Sometimes that threat is real and sometimes it is exaggerated or imagined. Fear is sometimes the correct and appropriate response. More often it is an unnecessary mental burden which creates unnecessary barriers to progress. Fear will prevent you from taking risks worth taking, from making the changes needed to live a better life. Fear more than any other emotion will stop you being the person you were meant to be. The only choice you have is to “Do. Or do not”.

Hmm. In the end, cowards are those who follow the dark side.” – Yoda

There is no shame in being afraid. Cowards are those who are unwilling or unable to face up to their fears. They choose to give in to fear and allow it to control them without concern for others. Anakin gave in to his fears by betraying everything dear to him for the illusion of security and control. To be Jedi is to acknowledge the presence of fear but train the mind to let go of everything you fear to lose. Never be a slave to fear. Be brave.

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”Yoda

Taken from Week 48 of the Daily Jedi Journal

Reflect

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way” – Yoda

Why are you here? What do you want from life? Where do you want to go? How do you plan to get there? These are often the questions we ask ourselves as we face a New Year. We reflect upon the last year. Some of us take time to count our blessings and successes as well as failures. We assess what went well and identify where improvements can be made. We take inventory.

What will I find?” – Luke Skywalker

As you begin to start the new year the chances are you are seeking to change. That change may be specific to your relationships, career, health, or finances. You may be unhappy where your life is currently at and you want to make broad and sweeping changes. Perhaps things are generally going well but you want to do better in some or all areas of your life.

Only what you take with you” – Yoda

Self-reflection and introspection are a powerful act which can guide us on a path to enlightenment. The exercise is not meant to be self-absorption. We are not using it to think of ourselves only in a selfish or self-centred way. The goal is not to garner a spirit of self will or to blame others. Self-reflection is to realize our goals and understand where we are in relation to those goals. This leads to self-knowledge. With self-knowledge comes the freedom to change once we decide to act.

It’s a chance for you to make a fresh start.” – Mon Mothma

Take some time to reflect on your life. Consider the past year and go back as far as you want to. List your achievements for the last 12 months. Highlight your successes. Now do the same for the last 5 years and if you dare go back as far as a decade.

The milestones of your life may be anything you consider significant. It may include finishing school and university, academic achievements, career highlights, military or community service, business achievements and financial growth. List the things that make you proud. Include your family milestones and relationships with partners, family, friends, and associates.

Search your Feelings” – Luke Skywalker

List all your key attributes that you feel describe you in a positive way. Words might include trustworthy, humble, funny, determined, intelligent, kind, considerate and compassionate.

Now list where things have not gone so well in your life. List the areas you regret, or wish could be improved. Inventory your faults to others as well as your flaws and failures. Be honest but do not self-deprecate yourself in the process. Confronting our mistakes and failures are essential if we want to move on and improve our lives.

“To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose” – Yoda

List your character flaws and faults which you identify as negative or unproductive. These might be impatient, compulsive, obsessive, aggressive, resentful, demanding, inflexible, bigoted, and dishonest.

Take the time to meditate on this exercise. Self-reflection can be a confronting as well as a rewarding experience. Unless we know who, we are and come to terms with it, we cannot hope to move forward.

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

Self-reflection requires a lot of honesty and introspection. We must be completely honest with ourselves and realistic in the way we look at ourselves. A mirror must be held up and we must confront who we are and where we have come from. We must face the good with the bad to make the change we want to be. This can be hard but persevere we must.

Use your time. You’ll find one day that you have too little of it.” –  Qui-Gon Jinn

Trials

I have been thinking a lot about the Jedi Trials. I am at that part of the Daily Jedi Journal where I have had to take a hard look in the mirror and recognise my failings and faults and try to overcome them.

In your training how do you put yourself through trials to test your training as Jedi?

The last two months have been difficult due to things going on in my life. On looking back I realized that I handled them pretty well considering and managed to apply Jedi philosophy, simply put the Jedi Code, in dealing with each of them.

This is what has been happening:

In late October my younger sister was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer out of the blue. It was identified during treatment for an infection. It turned out to be Stage 4, multisystem and aggressive and she was given a very poor prognosis and told perhaps 6 weeks to 3 months to live. This was a bit of a shock. To add to the pain, the public health system in this country is not great and the bureaucracy is insane. Her treatment (chemo) was delayed by a month and with Stage 4 cancer it is vital that you act quickly and aggressively.

On the same day I visited the hospital to learn of the diagnosis my car was stolen from the parking lot outside…

A few days later I returned to work at a mining concern . I found in my absence some people had undertaken work without authority and broken several environmental and safety requirements. There was a massive investigation, finger pointing, blame game and anger. People were fired, lawyers were called in. Statements were read. People lied and betrayed others to keep their jobs. I was not even there when it happened, and I got mauled. It was a bad experience and left me to question my loyalty to the company I have worked for 10 years.

Soon after there was a restructuring, and I was moved from operations to corporate services within the company. The trouble of course is that my boss, the corporate general manager, is located 2000km away, is a micromanager and reminds me of Sheev Palpatine.

The difference between I and Anakin is I recognise the corporate general manager for what he is; an incompetent bureaucrat and power seeker that takes credit for other peoples work while undermining them and manipulating the hierarchy to elevate his power and position. Naturally I have clashed with this “Palpatine” character more than twice. Not a wise career move apparently.

The implication of course is that as my new boss he would find a way to restructure me out and now he has. On Christmas Eve I was told that after 10 years service my position was no longer required and was being purged. They have another person, a friend of the general manager, waiting to take my office. Rather than get angry I thanked the company COO and HR manager for my service and left without regret.

To paraphrase Jocko Willink “Good“.

After all that, here I sit at home on Christmas Day, and I am a happy Jedi. I asked, “what trials can I put myself through to test my training”? I thought about things like running and hiking for miles, fasting for days, cold showers and various self-inflicted discomforts. In the end the Force answered and gave me a string of trials to navigate and use my Jedi training. It reminded me the real point of Jedi philosophy is not to create a fictional Jedi with physical and mental super powers but someone with the emotional intelligence and mental resilience to deal with life’s struggles and come away helping others. Its about training the mind, body and spirit to live as everyday people.

My sister’s treatment is going OK and she is responding well and feeling better. Living with cancer is a day to day thing. I realized I did not need a car and gave the insurance pay-out to my wife to spend on Christmas. The government sent a letter back to the company about the incident and said it was no big deal, so a lot of people got upset over nothing. I have come to accept my severance as an opportunity. I am better off working elsewhere and new opportunities have started coming in. I am still sober and did not think about drinking once.

The moral of the story is life is a training ground. We all go through our own personal Dagobah. We all go through our own trials in life. The difference is, we are never told necessarily when that will happen, the Force decides, and we answer the call.

Merry Christmas, MTFBWY.

Aequitas

Article first posted 4 May 2020 under the Title “Justice”.

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic” – Obi-wan Kenobi

The Fall

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

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. Be wary of the mob demanding retribution at all costs. Justice should contain none of these things. Justice should be Aequitas.

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?

Justice only holds if it is based on truth. Honesty is paramount. Lies, half truths and falsehoods negate justice. The truth is not predicated on the views of the mob and prevailing attitudes. Justice is predicated on truth which is immutable.

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, equity, compassion and wisdom? Are you like the Goddess Aequitas, blind in serving justice to others?

Father

Father

“Dad”

I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father” – Luke Skywalker

Carl Jung wrote that the archetype of the Father was in constant struggle with the son. That struggle exists because the son is born to outlive and surpass the Father. The Father places himself between the child man and the mother, rendering the sacred bond. The son in his presence also threatens the Fathers position, he makes him redundant and replaces him. The son is the symbol of the new. The power of the Father reaches its zenith and begins to wane as he ages. The Father is the past. The old is replaced by the new and the circle continues. The story continues to be written, wisdom is passed down and the son eventually becomes the Father. The passing of the mantle from Father to son has continued since the dawn of humans and continues to this day.

In the “The Hero with a thousand faces” by Joseph Campbell, the son on his perilous quest must come to an atonement with the Father. Through his struggles the boy becomes the man that he is meant to be. To complete the journey of becoming fully integrated the man must confront and overcome the Father or reconcile with him. Atonement with the Father is necessary for individuation to occur.

Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Don’t say that Master… You’re the closest thing I have to a father… I love you. I don’t want to cause you pain.” – Anakin

Star Wars is a fictional portrayal of the Heroes Journey which follows the same stages of all great myths. The archetype of the Father and the conflict with the son looms large in the mythology both in the canon and in the expanded universe stories. The story is played out between Anakin and Obi-wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and Anakin and finally Han Solo and his estranged son, Ben.

Anakin was the divine child in the Star Wars mythology. A child with no Father. Anakin was a product of the Force and he was said to be the chosen one. The coming of the chosen one was prophesized since ancient times and promised a return of balance to the Force. Without a biological Father, Anakin found a surrogate in Ob-wan Kenobi. Over the years that Obi-wan trained Anakin and mentored him on missions the Padawan and then the Jedi felt a need to better his Master and challenge him at every turn. The relationship soured as Anakin fell under the influence of Palpatine and this led to confrontation. Obi-wan Kenobi prevailed against Anakin on Mustafar condemning him to a life of regret and Anakin a life of hell. Decades later on the Death Star, Obi-wan surrendered to his fate and became atoned.

Now I am the Master” – Darth Vader

Luke Skywalker never knew his father. The identity was only revealed to him after he had already embraced the call to adventure. The second half of the original trilogy was the unfolding of the conflict between Father and son and the eventual redeeming of Anakin by his son on the second Death Star. Love reconciled and reunited them.

Luke, I am your Father” – Darth Vader

Ben Solo had a troubled life. He was the child of two of the most famous people in the galaxy and watched his mother and father fight and go separate ways. Luke taking Ben as his apprentice also failed and betrayed his nephew. In his confusion and anger he eventually turned to the dark side believing that it bought him closer to his Great Uncle while not understanding that Anakin had been atoned and returned to the light side of the Force. Han Solo sought to reconcile with his son and return him to the mother and in doing so gave up his life. Much later Ben was atoned and reunited with his Father and the Force through self-sacrifice. The prodigal son returned forgiven to the Father with one word he had never uttered before “Dad”.

Your Son Is Gone. He Was Weak, And Foolish Like His Father.” – Kylo Ren

I walked out of home days after finishing High School and made my way to an Army Recruiters office where I took the first steps in to the life of an adult. I never saw or spoke to my father again. Our relationship had been difficult. I wanted to have a good father-son relationship but I despised him for the harm he had done over the years. I also feared him and could never hope to confront him to resolve the conflict that existed. It was easier to run and never have to deal with it. To this day I still dream of a meeting between us where we can reconcile and atone for the past.

My Father was from a remote place in the Balkans. That region had suffered centuries of war and occupation by foreign powers. It had experienced ethnic and religious conflict and genocide before the oppression of communism. The mountains were soaked with blood and tears. Fleeing that country he sought a better life in the west as a refugee and married, settled in a new country and became alcoholic.

Then there were the years I remember of turmoil, grief, anxiety and fear living in poverty with a man who had no control of his behaviours or emotions. Always the ever present alcoholism that bought utter despair. I moved out as soon as I could and went as far away as I could. 

Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware anger, fear, and aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Luke… do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor or suffer your father’s fate you will.” – Yoda

A decade ago I awoke one night and had the strangest sense that my Father had passed away. I could feel his essence passing from this world to the next. Awake with that I felt nothing but a twinge of regret that whatever I had to say to him would now never be said in person. I also realised that my journey would never be really completed because I was unable to meet my Father again before he passed away.

Not long after I learned through an anonymous phone call that he had indeed passed away as a destitute alcoholic on the other side of the country. I still have no idea how I was tracked down. After the call things got worse. I felt as if I had failed in an important endeavour. Regret of a missed reconciliation turned to bitterness. I felt creeping anxiety of my own mortality and the passing of time. Shadows seemed to crowd in. I became bitter and resentful. This of course fed the final year of my drinking which became uncontrollable. I no longer enjoyed it. The taste of alcohol was revolting and my hangovers grew worse and worse. Soon I could barely support a single drink but it did not matter. I had no choice but to drink.

One thing remains. Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be. And confront him you will.” – Yoda

The figure of my Father loomed large with every drunk. At times I felt as if I was becoming him. I feared to become the man that he was but I looked in the mirror and saw him looking back. The spiral downwards continued and so did the despair. The shadows grew darker and enclosed around me. I felt my insanity beginning to slip. Thoughts of suicide pervaded my drunken thoughts and haunted me during hangovers and short periods of sobriety.

I will never forget seeing my Father when he visited I and my brother in a state orphanage. The state had intervened and removed us from his care when I was 10. My mother had died partly from his ineptitude and was in the grave three years already. He arrived at the orphanage in a dishevelled state and very drunk. I and my brother were kept indoors, away from him. Outside my father stumbled and fell while a few boys poked fun at him and threw stones, one of the boys tried to steal his bottle as the others distracted him. It was pathetic and sad to watch. I was beyond ashamed. My father was a shadow of the man he had once been and was extremely thin and pale. A counsellor from the orphanage called the police and they came and took him away. The authorities placed him in an asylum. The memory burned itself in my mind. Decades later I could see myself becoming that person.

Dad” – Kylo Ren’s (Ben Solo) last words in the Star Wars saga.

In recovery we seek to make amends where possible. Admitting our faults, making inventory and amends brings us atonement. This often includes seeking to make amends and reconciling with family members. Parents reconcile with children. Sons and daughters reconcile with parents. It is not possible to make amends with the dead in person like Ben Solo did with Han Solo. We know that there is no way we can turn the clock back and we accept that the person is beyond our reach and amends in the physical sense are impossible. Despite that we cannot fall into self-condemnation and remorse. Amends are made daily by living in virtue and practicing principles. You can make peace with the departed through your actions. You can speak to them through prayer if you want. I eventually forgave my Father and asked for his forgiveness in return.

One of the greatest responsibilities and roles is to be a Father. Sadly we see the absence of Fathers emotionally and physically in many families. Despite what many social commentators say, a child needs the presence of the Father. Boys especially need their Father, or at the very least a male role model who can guide and mentor them into life and help them reach their potential. To those in recovery that are estranged from their parents and especially men who are estranged from their sons or fathers, seek to make amends and reconcile. Atone for the past. As hard and painful as that may be do not leave it until it is too late.

Go with the Force, always it will give you strength.

Stillness

Be calm, at peace, passive” – Yoda

Before creation there was infinite stillness. Time, matter and energy resided as the Force waiting to be released into being. Nothing yet existed. There was only the potential for all that ever was in that stillness.

Stillness is being alert and in a state of complete awareness without action. Stillness is nature. A Lion relies on stillness to prepare for the dash which will bring down its prey. The universe is largely still and empty, a great void of potential yet to be realized. All matter is 99% emptiness. The remainder is vibrational energy that appears as matter.

To be still is to like an empty vessel waiting to be filled. The mind is clear, the body is relaxed and one is at peace. Stillness is being passive while being alert to everything happening around you. There is unrealized potential in stillness. This is the nature of the Force.

Attention!

“SILENCE!” yelled the Drill Sergeant at the top of his lungs as he entered the barracks room. In a flash everyone was on his feet standing at attention. You could not hear a pin drop as the Sergeant stood in the centre of the room and looked around. One spoken command had bought complete silence to a room that moments had been full of noise and activity. All focus was on this single imposing figure standing there, tattooed muscles bristled under a camouflage shirt, a green beret angled slightly on a clean shaven head, a slight smirk on a rugged tanned face as his gaze swept over the platoon. He moved slowly down the line of bunk beds and men at attention. Cold blue eyes pierced hard into recruits stood on a line painted on the floor. No one dared make a sound or move. We were going to lose the bad habits of a spoilt and soft civilian existence. We were going to learn stillness.

Stillness is something you are forced to learn in the Infantry. Your mental and physical health and even your life can rely on your ability to remain still and silent. If one soldier moves an arm or head in a company formation on the parade square he immediately draws attention to himself. A sniper camouflaged in a hide will give himself away through movement that is not executed carefully, with economy and precision.

Soldiers are expected to remain rigid and silent as long as is required. It take self-discipline, focus and self-control to remain perfectly still and quiet the mind screaming for activity. To not scratch that itch or speak up when silence is required can be harder than you think. Some people cannot remain still for more than a minute. In the army I was told “ears open, mouth shut” and reminded constantly “never draw attention to yourself!”, this meant being still, silent and alert.

Stand Firm

The military understands the value of stillness. The ability to remain immobile but alert is a hallmark of discipline. A soldier who can be passive and exercise self-control under pressure until an order is given is more useful in war than a mindless Berserker who cannot be controlled. In the confusion and chaos of battle the ability to remain still in mind but active in body is the trait of a true warrior.

The warrior is in complete control of his movements, actions and emotions. The weapon becomes an extension of himself driven by the power of the mind. The mind is laser focused on intent and achieving an objective. The still warrior is a weapon waiting to be unleashed.

The Jedi used stillness as a tool to remain calm and ready before battle but also for diplomacy and negotiations. They were in no rush to make a move when the best strategy was to stand firm and wait. A Jedi would wait for her opponent to make the first move and then respond accordingly. In negotiations it was necessary to remain impassive, silent and still and let others speak first.

Much can be conveyed through Stillness. Stillness can be intimidating for some. It can confuse the enemy and disarm them. Often the best tactic is to stay still. When Yoda said “be calm, at peace, passive”, he was reminding Luke that the true power of the Force resides in the stillness.

Calm, at Peace, Passive

Being alcoholic I was unable to be still. I had to always be on the go. My mind was always active and could never relax. I needed alcohol to calm my thoughts. I was ill disciplined. Irrational thoughts, emotions and impulses constantly pulled at me and directed my decisions. In order to embrace recovery I had to tap into my inner source. A stillness resides within ourselves that is immutable and beyond time and space. The stillness connects us to the Divine of which only an illusion of separation exists. I had to come to believe in a power greater than myself and let go. Through surrender I was able to find that stillness and walk free from alcohol. Those in the 12 step community will recognise this as Steps 2 and 3.

Being still does not mean being inactive or unassertive. Recovery is an active process but it is requires one to seek to be “calm, at peace, passive” through mindful action. The act of surrender requires letting go while also accepting responsibility for ourselves. We can no longer be like a marionette pulled mindlessly from one extreme to the other by the strings of impulses and emotions.

Being still allows us to gather our thoughts and process emotions in a way that benefits us and causes no harm to others. Thoughts and ideas can pass in and out of the mind through the day without requiring us to act until we are ready. Emotions can stir and then dissipate without needing to be energized by our attachments to them. Different impulses rise up through the day but It does not mean we need to respond to any of them. Thoughts, emotions and impulses do not have any power over you unless you choose so. The choice is yours.

Be still.

Order 66

(Source: zedge.net)

The time has come. Execute Order Sixty-Six.” – Darth Sidious

Order 66 was one of the most infamous days of the entire history of the Republic. Darth Sidious as Chancellor Palpatine saw his chance at last to seize power and finally destroy the Jedi Order. Every single Trooper in the Clone Army had been bio-engineered with a xenobot “chip” at birth. The Inhibitor chips were programmed to follow the Palpatine’s orders no matter how obscene or insane they might be once activated. When the order came, the Clone Army immediately carried out Order 66 to kill every Jedi to the last without question or hesitation.

In Coruscant, Anakin Skywalker was tasked with murdering the Younglings at the Jedi Temple. An act which would give Darth Sidious much pleasure and cement Anakin to the Dark Side. Anakin did not have a biochip engineered in to his brain. Unlike the Clone Troopers who indifferently and in cold blood gunned down the Jedi, Anakin only had his fear, anger and hate driving him to kill children. The Clone Troopers had no choice given that the biochip enforced compliance with Order 66. They acted like automatons in carrying it out. Anakin had a choice and still followed through with his actions with callous impunity.

Order 66 also marked the end of the Republic and ushered in the Empire with Darth Sidious placing himself as Emperor. Democracy had been dismantled with deafening applause. Now the the Republic would die and a long cold dark winter would descend on the galaxy. Where there had been celebration that the war with the Separatist Confederation there was now despair. Where the ascendancy of Palpatine had bought hope there was now  only the boot of the empire. The terror that was Darth Vader and the Death Star would soon follow.

I guess the new galactic order must’ve seemed promising to everyone on Coruscant until they woke up one morning and found all of their freedoms revoked. A fascist state had been imposed from the citadel that was once the Jedi Temple. Any choice the galactic demos had was now gone. Democracy and liberty was gone. Hope was gone.

Drinking is like that. You have a choice until you decide to abrogate it to alcohol. Then you don’t have a choice anymore. It seemed like a good idea at the time, obviously it wasn’t, not sure why I did it or why I will do it again and again, without end. That is insanity.

Sometimes I wonder if, like a Clone Trooper, I have a biochip in my head that was activated the day I took my fist drink. I was damned from the beginning to become what I became, an alcoholic. Only through recovery was I able to deactivate the chip and stop the drinking and the insane behavior that cascaded from it. What would happen if I took a drink now? Would the biochip be reactivated and would I once again descend in to the insanity? Would I walk back in to a long cold dark winter?

That’s a question I ask myself every time I peer in to my Shadow and the Dark Side tempts me to a drink. It grins and it waits.

Grace

Grace

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter” – Yoda

Grace is a term that brings up many religious connotations. Raised as a catholic I was confused by the term. Grace was a word that was used by the clergy to describe communion. In boarding school we were told that one had to achieve grace in order to ascend to heaven. We were also told that children such as us were beyond redemption and could never acquire grace. One of the Priests would state that it was only by his good grace that I receive six strokes of the cane and not a dozen. A visiting Bishop was called “your Grace” and many years later I heard that he had been arrested for turning a blind eye to the abuse of fostered and orphaned children in his care.

I could never get the word grace and for me it always held dark connotations. It reminded me of the dark halls of the orphanage, shivering in cold dark mornings at early prayers, the scolding of a priest hidden behind a curtain for not understanding the rites of confession and the leer of a drunken Brother who spoke with a thick Irish accent and smelt of beer and cabbage. There are memories of the taste of cold porridge, fights in the school yard, the kick from a nun and the sting of a cane on my fingers. I was glad when it ended. Grace never found me again and I wanted no part of it until I found what it meant many years later.

My ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, binds us.” – Yoda

Don’t confuse Grace with religion. Neither is it a virtue. Grace is a spiritual state of being that approaches enlightenment. To arrive at Grace is to realize the Force within your life.

Grace is genuine and selfless humility and compassion for others.  not when they have fallen on hard times but when you have. Grace is putting the concerns of others above your own without seeking recognition. It is to feel one’s own loss while also feeling the suffering of another and accepting it as one’s own. To have grace is to endure the suffering caused by others and to not only forgive them but to love them at the same time. The passion of the crucifixion is a symbol of grace. Jesus chose to accept suffering and death for the sake of others, especially those that were not deserving. Suffering terribly Jesus asked God to forgive those who had betrayed, punished and tortured him. Through grace, Jesus arrived at enlightenment and overcame duality.

You must feel the Force flow around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, yes, even between the land and the ship.” – Yoda

Is grace the path to enlightenment? I think so. The Buddha lived a life of Grace, as did Guru Nanak and Zarathustra. Their example of a life lived in grace inspires their followers and seekers of truth. Perhaps they came so close to the realizing idea of God while mortal men made of flesh that they achieved a state of perpetual grace.

We are reminded of the power of Grace in the Star Wars mythology. Yoda lived in harmony with others and acquired grace over a lifetime and became “one with the Force”. Obi-wan Kenobi, through a lifetime of pain and sacrifice and years of solitude in the desert found grace in realizing his purpose to protect the “chosen one” from harm. Anakin believed that power and control was his path to salvation but found true redemption and grace by sacrificing his life to save his son. Through the grace of forgiveness, mercy and unconditional love Luke  also saved his Father and found Grace.  Decades later, Luke chose to forsake his purpose and abandon his destiny but fate forced him to confront it and through grace find the living Force. Han Solo, a scoundrel, found Grace by giving up his life in a failed attempt to redeem his son. Ben Solo found grace in surrendering his life to save Rey. United with his mother, Leia Organa and Ben were united in the Force.

What do you know about the Force?” – Luke (to Rey)

I have never reached a state of Grace. My life could be best described as having been lived in “sin” and “excess” of alcoholism. I got a glimpse of Grace at the bottom of the dark pit called “rock bottom” but it was from a place beyond space and time. Perhaps I was touched by God. Whatever it was, it led me out of that place and I never drunk again. When I first saw the words “But by the Grace of God” framed on a wall at my first AA meeting it hit me and I finally got the idea of Grace.

Grace  is a word rarely heard or written but it still has a place in this world and it is in desperate short supply. One rarely witnesses the losing side in sports or politics accept their defeat with Grace. There are recriminations, protests and harsh words. The winning side also demonstrates arrogance and claims the spoils of victory and a moral superiority over the vanquished rather than seeking to offer a hand of peace and conciliation. Right now the world could use a good measure of grace.

Be gracious to others, stop fighting, put down your Lightsaber.