Recently my dear sister gifted me with a wonderful event we shared at the local performing arts center: the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film, accompanied by a live soundtrack and choral music by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. This was a truly sublime performance. However, just before the show was to begin, the conductor said something that alerted my attention. He was encouraging the audience to be interactive with the film, which was fun.
“Cheer for Harry; heck, cheer for Voldemort, if you want.”
This last part, an open invitation to cheer for evil incarnate, struck me as a sour chord. I have seen too much of this invitation to align with the Dark Side over the past fifteen years or so in popular media. It was soon after the release of The Hunger Games (March 2012) on the big screen that the Sandy Hook massacre (December 2012) of children occurred. That was preceded five years earlier (May 2005) by the portrayal of Anakin Skywalker’s initiation into the Dark Side in the Star Wars saga by deliberately murdering Jedi ‘younglings’ in Revenge of the Sith (Episode III). Fast forward to the Disney version of The Force Awakens, where Darth Vader’s grandson Kaylo Ren murders his own father, the beloved Star Wars hero, Hans Solo. And I don’t even include here the many violent video games, some of which appear on main stream media ads, because I won’t go there to look.
The mass murder at the Aurora, CO theatre, near where I was living then, was during the opening of a dark Batman installation, and the murderer was dressed as The Joker. At all Star Wars movies, some young people dress as Darth Vader or later, as Kaylo Ren, to attend the shows.
All of these images remind me also of the advancing of The Nothing as depicted in The Neverending Story (July 1984). Here the young hero learns he must resist and counter encroaching Negativity–of bullies in his life but more archetypally of the encroaching Darkness of materialism and narcissism in the world.
As well, I find a flaw in many of these blockbuster fantasy sci-fi stories in the salvation of Darth Vader and Kaylo Ren, for example, in the concluding episodes of their series. After recklessly destroying whole planets and and maliciously murdering countless individuals with commands like “Kill them All!,” somehow we are yet encouraged to celebrate these same evil characters’ ascension into the Light for having acknowledged the evilness of their actions just before their deaths. To me this plot element is unfortunate, unacceptable and just plain wrong. Karma has yet to wield its ‘balance’ on the actions of these evil and fully culpable characters.
The true Balance of the Force, I would argue from a Better Endings perspective, is the Middle Path. As we wind through our Soul journeys we aim to find that balance by recognizing and accepting the full consequences of our harmful thoughts, words and deeds; eventually (over many lifetimes perhaps) coming to embrace and extend life affirming, generous actions, and overall developing unconditional, detached love for all life. We need not be for nor against anything to Hold to the Center; we acknowledge responsibility for all of our thoughts, words and actions, knowing that to truly unfold spiritually we must balance our immature or evil tendencies with awareness and total acceptance of the consequences of our misdoings.
The cultural images of anti-heroic characters like Darth Vader, Kaylo Ren, or the Joker are expressions of shadowy archetypal potentials usually submerged and checked by more life affirming, positive human potentials. I recommend to not release the Kracken in ourselves, although to recognize such tendencies and seek therapy can be highly beneficial.
Better endings benefit the Whole… of humanity, and of our Selves. May we anchor to that solid core of Balance, to discover and celebrate the Light.