Hate seems to be everywhere.
Angry rants infuse news stories.
Rageful comments fill your social media feeds.
And shouts of f-bombs and “asshole” are common in debates among your acquaintances.
You may think, “What has the world come to?”
When did people become so hateful, biased and brainwashed? To the point they can’t tell the difference between truth and lies…
This is how hate shows its ugly head in the modern world.
But there is still hope.
And we can learn something from one of the most legendary movie series of all time.
What you can learn about hate from Star Wars
All seemed to be lost.
The rebellion’s attack on the death star was sabotaged by an imperial fleet, and Luke’s friends were captured on the forest moon of Endor.
Face to face with the Emperor and Darth Vadar, Luke had nowhere to go. No escape from an epic clash with the Dark Side.
The only question was, how would Luke emerge?
Would he turn? Would he die? Or would he somehow save the day?
You almost certainly know what happens. But nearly 4 decades after Return of the Jedi’s release, the ending’s lesson about hate is more relevant than ever.
If you watch the scene above, you’ll remember that when Luke finally defeats Vader, he pauses and looks at his own robotic hand…a hand that now looks mysteriously like that of his father’s he just cut off.
What realization was Luke having then?
His shocked and bewildered expression says it all:
When you fight hate with hate, you become what you hate.
Luke is falling into the Emperor’s trap—he is becoming the next Vadar. And had he killed him, he would’ve had few options:
- Join the Emperor and the Dark Side
- Be killed by the Emperor
There is little chance Luke could have defeated the Emperor without Vader’s help. And the act of killing his father would’ve likely left Luke in such an emotionally devastated state that he would’ve succumbed to the Emperor’s will or been unable to fight him.
Instead, Luke did something that embodies a quote from one of America’s most famous revolutionaries.
Star Wars, Martin Luther King Jr. and how peace dissolves hate
Ashamed of his actions, Luke turns toward the Emperor, throws down his lightsaber and defiantly says, “I’ll never turn to the Dark Side.”
Luke’s actions echo a little-known quote of Martin Luther King Jr.
“It is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflictor of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and changing of heart.” - MLK J, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
As he stands over his wounded father, Luke is almost certainly ashamed of his actions. And it is this shame that causes Luke to drop his lightsaber and refuse to kill his father. Ultimately, Luke’s peaceful protest to the Emperor is what causes Vader’s transformation of heart.
What you can learn from Luke's refusal to fight
It’s human nature. When someone pushes you, there’s a natural urge to push back. But if you do so, you become just as bad as your oppressor. Fighting hate with hate transforms you into something you are not.
Just like Luke demonstrated, hate must be confronted with calm and a willingness to stand peacefully in its presence. Only then can your oppressor become conscious of his actions.
If you take the bait and fight hate with hate, you only strengthen your oppressor’s power because now you’ve given him reason to push you down again.
But when you confront hate with peace, hate begins to dissolve.
When protestors fight their oppressors in the street, onlookers don’t see a single side’s actions. They only see the fight both sides are participating in. But when protestors refuse to fight, suddenly those same onlookers see something completely different—a violent oppressor beating innocent, peaceful people.
When hate is met without resistance, the oppressor’s destructive actions are exposed and cause him to feel shame.
This is how revolution really happens.
Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Gandhi all knew that peace was a secret weapon that could conquer oppression. But somehow today, their message has gotten lost in the noise.
But there is still hope.
Let go of your hate—unleash the peace within
Hate is a toxic emotion.
When it runs through your veins, it feels fiery, hot and painful.
But what if you could let go of your hate?
The next time someone tries to suck you into a rageful argument or an outrageous fake news article invades your social media feed, what if you could just say “no”?
What if you could refuse to take the bait?
While it may first seem like you’re being weak for not denouncing the hateful words, fighting them with all your power, what you’re really doing is being brave.
By not fighting hate with hate you are revealing your enemy’s destructive nature.
And my guess is you will begin to find your own peace and calm in your life.