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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.
fluffy bunny

Absolutely mythical

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C1325529963/E20071009133622

Dualism and modern mythology

From some reason as I write this, I've got the tune to Robert Palmer's Simply Irresistible running through my head with new lyrics.

When it comes to modern Pagan philosophers, Isaac Bonewits was one of my earliest influences. His writings on the distortions created by dualistic assumptions were some of the best I had ever read. It was one of those "ton of brick" moments, I was struggling with my identity as a Pagan despite being raised Christian. And Bonewits is absolutely right.

Except when it comes to his own politics.

It's common. Those EITHER/OR blinders are a lot more widespread than we comfortably admit. Especially when it comes to ourselves.

My own blinders include prejudices against "fluffy bunnies" and until quite recently otherkin. Part of that was because I didn't make the effort to dig deeper, but mainly because the "noisiest" examples aren't necessarily the people you'd want around you. There are exceptions, but they are difficult to find.

I absolutely love Wren's Nest, I consider it one of the the best Pagan news sources around. But it doesn't take long before a commenter trots out the anti-Christian bit on almost any thread.

One of my hard won life lessons that I am willing to share is very simple. When you see two and only two alternatives, start looking for the third.

In most situations, either/or choices don't work.

A dualistic mind set is one of those REALLY BAD™ ideas.

It doesn't matter if it's Christian vs. Pagan, Democrat vs. Republican, or Freemasons vs. the Elks.

I made that last one up. And that is my point. The myths we choose to talk about and live are the memes that shape our lives, regardless of their "truth."

I want to talk about one of the best known myths of our time, and how it illustrates the Third Way that overcomes dualism. I'm talking about the Star Wars films.

Specifically, I want to concentrate on the differences between the pre-Empire Galactic Republic and the Galactic Empire on the large scale, and between Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker on the small scale.

From the original films, we know that the Galactic Empire is EVIL BAD in capital letters. They destroy entire planets. They make their stormtroopers wear dorky armor that doesn't seem to deflect much blaster fire. They squeeze the economies of their member planets. They send secret operatives to ferret out dissent.

From the prequel films, we know that the Republic are the good guys. They have a democratic tradition which prevents justice and can be manipulated behind the scenes. They make their cloned stormtroopers wear dorky armor that doesn't seem to prevent much blaster fire. They squeeze the economies of their member planets. And they send secret operatives to ferret out dissent.

The Empire has the Death Star, but the Republic is incapable of defending one of it's members from the advances of another. Is it evil to destroy life with the push of a button or with the procedural vote?

Be careful, that is one of those either/or choices I warned you about.

So let's look at how Anakin Skywalker fared under the Galactic Republic.

Time after time, he's told that he has to deny his passions, his connections to other people. It's not pure, it's not the Way of the Jedi. At first, he's even denied the Jedi training. The mighty Jedi Council sits on high, dispassionately evaluating everything and totally blind to the Sith.

The one Jedi Master who thinks outside the box well enough to help Anakin come to terms with his feelings is dead by the end of the first prequel film.

Despite promises of freedom and justice, Anakin's mother remains a slave and is killed without the protection of the Republic. Anakin's visions torment him with visions of his beloved dying in despair. The Jedi Council won't make him a Master, despite his obvious gifts and abilities.

To Anakin, the Republic betrayed him long before he took up the path of a Sith Lord.

Luke Skywalker fared even worse under the Galactic Empire. His guardians were killed by stormtroopers. He knew that Darth Vader had "killed" his father. He watched as Vader sliced his mentor in half. If anyone had a reason for revenge, it was Luke.

As Luke progressed in his training, his teachers stress that he must disassociate his feelings from his actions. Time after time, he is told that only a fully trained Jedi could hope to face Vader and the Emperor.

Yet there was an x-factor, something totally unexpected. Even before Luke knew Leia was his sister, there was a connection that grew only stronger the more time they spent together. Luke could feel how his sister felt about Han Solo, the charming rogue who only became a hero because his friends were in danger.

Anakin didn't have a Han Solo. Luke did.

That's why Luke knew his father could be redeemed. He had already seen Han redeemed.

I'd like to say that the clues were there. Red Flight became Rogue Flight. Han's military and practical experience showed up on Hoth and in the deference that the Rebels gave Han and Chewie. More than anything else, more than the pronouncements of Yoda or the promises of Ben Kenobi, Luke knew that he could count on Han to pull him out of a disaster.

"That's two you owe me, junior."

It was the connection to Leia that let Luke survive his first encounter with Vader. It was Han's willing sacrifice that let Leia, Chewie, Lando, and the droids escape.

Because, you see, even though the good guys won and the Emperor was destroyed, it wasn't done by the way of the Jedi.

It was a man who had mastered the way of the Jedi but chose a path of compassion.

Luke Skywalker looked for the third way beyond either/or. That's what let him win.

That's the real myth of Star Wars. Not good versus evil.

The Sith could only exist because the Jedi were incomplete. And the Sith were doomed because they were the flip side and just as incomplete.

The only lasting solution was to find another way not in the assumptions of either "side." And the man who made it possible wasn't a Jedi, but a good man who chose to be better out of friendship and love.

So how does this relate to us?

Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it is enough to know that there are usually more than two answers. Maybe it is enough to know that sometimes our expectations shape our answers more than any truth.

And maybe it is enough knowing that only two answers mirror each other.

Posted: Tue - October 9, 2007 at 01:36 PM


NeoNotes — Fluffies and Crusaders

The pagan loves the earth in order to enjoy it and confine himself within it; the Christian in order to make it purer and draw from it the strength to escape from it.
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

NeoNotes — A long hard look

Sending kids to "get religion" instead of practicing it with them is one of the surest setups for failure I know.
— NeoWayland

Eclecticism, Discipline, & Mastery

At the end of the day, some things can't be faked.

Sunfell Tech Mage Rede Nine Words Serve The Tech Mage Best Keep What Works Fix What’s Broke Ditch The Rest

A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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