With the recent resurgence of Star Wars mania, you probably know that the much-anticipated new episode, The Force Awakens, came out recently. Even if you’re not a die-hard Star Wars fan, however, this epic series has much to offer beyond entertainment value—including vital life lessons. Amid all the excitement about the new film, I’m reminded of a certain scene in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (the best in my opinion). Here, we find Luke in the midst of his intense physical and psychological training with Jedi Master Yoda when a simple, yet powerful exchange occurs:
LUKE: Is the dark side stronger?
YODA: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Going back to the very first film in 1977, the “dark side” is a dominant theme in the Star Wars franchise. This corrupt yet alluring energy is a powerful draw that the Jedi Order must fight to resist. From the beginning of a Jedi’s life, he is taught to follow the light side of the Force; however, the dark side has a cunning way of seducing Jedis when they’re at their most vulnerable. The dark side is powered by fear, anger, hatred, and aggression and presents an easier path than doing what’s right. Throughout the Star Wars franchise, we witness characters who are unable to resist the temptation of the dark side and become ensnared in its insidious grip.
Yoda believes that “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” While the dark side represented in the movies may be a bit more dramatic than what most of us face in our everyday lives, it provides a handy metaphor for the choices we all face. Similar to your average Jedi in Star Wars, humans are imperfect creatures who suffer from temptation. And while giving in to harmful desires in our lives won’t necessarily destroy our destinies, it often leaves us with feelings of guilt and defeat. So why do we give in to temptation, especially when it creates such internal havoc?
The answer is simple: because it’s easier. If doing the right thing were the easiest option, no one would lie to their spouse or cheat on their taxes. All you have to do is tune in to the debate coverage to know how seductive giving in to anger and hatred can be.
Think about the moment when a confrontation with a family member triggers intense anger and frustration; lashing out is much easier than channeling the feelings in an appropriate way. Doing the right thing (aka staying on the light side of the Force) takes a great deal of self-control—which is why humans and Jedis alike struggle with the temptations of the dark side.
Consider this: giving in to temptation might be easier at first, but it can have grave consequences.