THE PRICE OF INJUSTICE IS ALWAYS HIGH… THE COST? HIGHER!
Almost everyone is familiar with the Star Wars movies. They’ve become a part of not only our national but the international culture as well. “May the force be with you…” “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” “The dark side.” These are phrases we use – sometimes daily – and they’re so much a part of our culture everyone understands the meaning conveyed often without stopping to think about from whence the phrase comes.
When they launched the prequel trilogy beginning with “The Phantom Menace,” we packed the theaters because we were invested in the tale. We wanted to know how things came to be. I remember watching the first Star Wars movie “A New Hope – Episode IV” and wondering where the hell were episodes 1-3. Thus, like most of you I found myself also sitting in a darkened theater, fully engaged to see the events that led up to the first 3 movies I had seen.
We were introduced for the first time to young Anakin Skywalker. I remember thinking, like many of you, “how in the world does this adorable child grow up to become Darth Vader?” We were told that he and his mother were Slaves. They were owned by “Watto” a Toydarian junk dealer/human trafficker in Mos Espa on Tatooine.
The reality of their Slavery was made comfortable to the audience. They seemed to have a home, own property and were able to host a meal for Qui-Gon Jinn and his party. Slavery was made to seem like just another job. You didn’t really begin to understand until Qui-Gon Jinn purchased Anakin from Watto. But hey! It was for the better wasn’t it? His mother Shimi Skywalker seemed to understand. Surely Qui-Gon Jinn would have purchased her too if he’d had enough money. The first episode left you with the feeling that they’d be back to get her. It was almost as though her gifted son was going away to college. Yes there were tears, but most mothers cry on their child’s first day of school. Were you *really* paying attention though?
It turns out, they never did go back to get Anakin’s mother. Clearly this weighed heavily on him as he grew into a young man. There remains an unbreakable bond between mother and child and the full impact of this is realized in the second episode – “Attack Of The Clones.” Anakin senses his mother’s distress galaxies away and drops what he is doing to rush to her aid. He neglects his duties something anyone of us would do if our mother were in distress.
It turns out that Watto needed some money so he sold Shimi Skywalker to a group of “Sand People” who mistreat her sorely. It is the mistreatment she is suffering at their hands that Anakin feels. He arrives just in time for her to die in his arms. It is this hurt and rage that sets his feet firmly on the path to “The Dark Side.” He uses his Jedi training to murder them all. His rage makes him powerful. Were you paying attention?
Yes, Chancellor Palpatine – a Sith Lord – was certainly contributing by egging him on. However, the real message – almost subliminal – was the injustice of slavery, the need for retribution is what actually made him vulnerable to the suggestions of Palpatine. The Chancellor only acted as a catalyst for the explosive brew that was already present.
Yes, we see and understand the highly sanitized concept when it is surrounding by special effects and a well written musical score. However, we forget that everyday in our society we are allowing the creation of millions of people who are raised on the heady toxin of injustice to be loosed upon our society. No, they will never pick up a light saber, but they may pick up a gun. They cannot move objects with their minds but the seeds of pathology planted in the fertile soil of poverty, lack of opportunity and injustice are growing like weeds all around us.
The transformation from a young adorable Anakin Skywalker to the murderous Darth Vader whom without remorse slaughtered the “younglings” – children training to become Jedi – was jarring. Were you paying attention? Yet, it was a metaphor for what occurs on a daily basis within our society. We’ve got children murdering children. Mothers burying their young instead of the natural course of nature. Instead of paying attention, we look for the simple solution. Must be the guns! If we could just get rid of those, everything would be better. No it wouldn’t. We’re creating monsters wholesale in the test tubes of ignorance and lack. The price of injustice is high, the cost is even higher. Pay attention!