A Useful Metaphor

You’d have to be living in a cave to escape all the hype about the new Star Wars movie. I rarely go to movies, but even I felt the need to see this one—if only to hold my own with my grandchildren.

For the record, I thought it was a pretty mediocre movie. I have always thought that Star Wars was space opera with great special effects, rather than inventive science fiction, but I think I understand the appeal of the franchise.

It’s the good guys against The Dark Side.

In real life, the lines are not so simple. Most people are neither saintly or unremittingly evil. (As a friend of mine likes to say, incompetence explains so much more than conspiracy.) In  many situations, determining right and wrong can be complicated. But—probably for that very reason— we humans tend to pine for bright lines, for simple demarcations between “us” and “them”—with “us” being the good guys and “them” the bad guys.

Of course, there really are “bad guys.” Sometimes, those we label “bad” are simply misguided, or mentally incapacitated  (or really, really stupid), but there is no denying that there really are a lot of malevolent people in the world—not to mention the assholes, the self-aggrandizing, self-centered power-seekers who aren’t affirmatively evil, but who don’t care about the harmful consequences of their actions.

These days, in various arenas and more often than we like to admit, the “bad guys” seem to be winning, and winners are attractive. Political psychologists tell us that people like to identify with winners, to climb onto the bandwagon of popular opinion.

In real life, we are challenged to reject the affirming mindlessness of the mob— to refuse to go over to The Dark Side, no matter what the temptations or inducements—and to do so without becoming “bad guys” ourselves.

Draw your own political analogies….


  1. I find greater political analogies with Keystone Kops vs. The Three Stooges; Star Wars can’t even be compared to our space program or our serious earthly/humanitarian problems today. It is excapism; but like drugs and alcohol there is always the return to the real world which didn’t change while you sat in the theater. A strong dose of reality is needed to wake up Republicans and Democrats regarding conditions in this country today. We cannot help Han Solo; we can help Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton and we most certainly can help John Gregg if we can spur him to action. Growing up with comic book characters from Nancy and Sluggo to The Green Hornet; it angered me to see a movie with Superman vs. Batman. I didn’t bother reading a movie description; the title pitting two “heroes” against one another defies even juvenile minds.

    We know who the “bad guys on the dark side” are; it is pitiful that they get more publicity and support (IF you can believe their polls) than the good guys on the bright side. Could the Republicans be misreading “GOP” as “GOD”; everything today has become an acronym which can easily be misread, many of which I have no idea what the hell they stand for. Spell it out so even the most uneducated know what we are being told about who…or whom. To me, Star Wars is a metaphor for the unworldly group of Republicans controlling congress and seeking the presidential nomination…they defy reality and none of them are to be believed.

  2. Speaking of the Dark side, evil and Ass Holes… I learned last night that the Koch brothers and their front organizations are behind the “grass roots” folks trying to kill the VA System. These ass holes never fail to amaze.

  3. Good and evil are useful abstractions, but they’re redundant. There are much more descriptive words that carry the same meaning.

    Like collaborative vs competitive.

    When people collaborate they make progress towards common goals. When they compete both are trying to make what they view as personal progress at the expense of the other.

    That, I believe, is the whole explanation. No devil, no gods, no split personalities, no ‘isms. When we collaborate all boats rise, when we make the choice to compete we merely divvy up whatever progress happens, unequally.

    Of course we have noticed that collaboration is the path to utopia and competition the path to dystopia but still having two cookies is better than one.

    Nobody, IMO, has ever described this more compellingly than John Steinbeck in “East of Eden”. In those pages Steinbeck’s characters wrestle mightily with collaboration vs competition leading Lee, the immigrant thinker, to the conclusion that the problems of the world stem from free will. We can all choose.

  4. In voicing our views, we are constantly challenged to hold up a mirror to determine if the reflection we see is the them that we describe as the Boogeyman or the we that we believe are here to save the day… It’s a tight rope we constantly walk. Very nice read, Sheila. Thank you.

  5. JoAnn,

    “…..the unworldly group of Republicans controlling congress and seeking the presidential nomination…….they defy reality and none of them are to be believed.”

    Thanks for the encouragement. It meant a lot, especially, coming from you.

    Just “one last parting shot.” Those Republican “elite deviants” also control not only the Far-Right “think tanks” but also, at a deep level, the Pro-Democracy ones too.

    That’s why SheilaKennedy.net is so important. It’s on a different “wave length” or “frequency” than all the other blogs. In reality, it acts as the LAST legitimate pro-democracy “think tank” in America. It’s open to all who still have a functioning brain. It’s unrivaled. One important factor is that it is communicating from the “apex” of the DalJaxIndy triangle which is the “heart” of the Tea Party movement in America.

    I have mentioned to you before that I track the visitors to my various websites as to location and provider, one of which is SheilaKennedy.net. Sheila’s audience is worldwide.


  6. Thanks Sheila,
    Perhaps a fruitful concentration of our mental efforts is to comprehend the innocence and beauty of the positive constructs we are confronted with daily. I consider myself lucky when I find them incomprehensible. The less I concentrate on the dark side and bad guys and how they think (without denying their effect or existence) the more I am drawn to the optimism of youth, even memories of my own and solutions. Thus, I find myself back where your analysis began.

  7. First , watch ALL of the movies from part one , on. Holly wood uses science fiction to tell us the TRUTH . In the Star Wars sagas , the Empire IS the U.N. , the New World Order Council on foreign Relations , the Royal family ,et al .
    Metaphor ? Absolutely ! And all BASED on reality .
    ” Reality … what a concept .’- Robin Williams.

  8. OMG; ‘eXcapism”, I am mortified. My profound apologies for such a childish misspelling. Maybe that trip down memory lane to my childhood comic book days of so long ago…or the fact that my furnace wasn’t working and I had brain freeze. Truth be told; simply poor editing on my part, sorry.

  9. So what exactly is evil. I recently read a book called Blood Lands. It is a book about the land from roughly Lithuania to the Black Sea, including Poland, White Russia and Ukraine just before WW 2 and shortly after. These unfortunate lands and people suffered death, destruction and degradation on a massive scale. It was of course more than Hitler and Stalin there were people at all levels who for one reason or another (including self-preservation) collaborated with this brutalization. This is of course is the extreme example of evil we can all recognize.

    What do we call the Flint River poisoning?? An evil decision or one of profound indifference.

    Interestingly, a stone-age massacre offers earliest evidence of human warfare, some 10,000 years ago. The evidence of their deaths at least 27 people, was graphic and unmistakable: the remains, which include at least eight women and six children, show skulls smashed in, skeletons shot through or stabbed with stone arrows and blades, and in four cases, hands almost certainly bound. We have not progressed very far as humans and have steadily improved our capabilities to inflict death on “others”.

  10. Today’s post touching on the power of propaganda is marvelous and simultaneously makes me angry, not sad, but angry that far too many students graduating from our public schools are not provided intentional and direct instruction in identifying the seven techniques of propaganda.

    I suppose I was fortunate, just plain lucky to graduate from high school in 1969 well before No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the national obsession with accountability testing which in many school districts has prompted the reduction of class offerings to four areas: English/Language Arts, Mathematics, a bit of science, and just a touch of social studies. The students who are not reading at grade level, who are not proficient in understanding the language of Algebra I consequently are not offered important exposure to and instruction in those areas that are deemed simply as “nice to know”.

    Guess what? A student does not need to post reading scores at grade level and does not need to grasp the abstract concepts of Algebra in order to comprehend and identify propaganda in its several forms. My most rewarding classroom experiences are from an Indianapolis inner city high school where with a few media pictures, some TV advertisements, and absolutely no required reading, I was able to introduce the concept of propaganda to kids who absorbed the lessons like thirsty sponges.

  11. It’s a truism of capitalism that the owner of the means financially benefits when they are used by labor to repurpose raw materials and energy into stuff of value to customers.

    Here’s the future though. Less labor and more robots (more means, less labor). Raw materials too scarce to meet demand. Fuel-less energy (only means required). Lots of global customers but zero to negative population growth.

    Can capitalism continue to function? Will the need for collaboration kill competition? Can capitalism live in zero growth?

    Stay tuned.

  12. BSH, you added another factor threatening capitalism. Mass media advertising de-fanged by overuse. People talking to people on social media rather than the airways saturated with monied interests misleading rubes.

  13. Pete, I’m thinking that national elections are determined by low information voters, those folks who vote for a particular candidate based upon nothing more than propaganda dispensed by advertising designed to appeal to the low formation voters’ particular area of weakness and lack of critical thinking skills. Seriously, Pete, there are folks who vote for a candidate based upon the propaganda of a testimonial/endorsement from a rock star celebrity, a movie star, or a reality show star. Of course, both political parties depend upon gaining votes from the easily swayed low information voters.

  14. I don’t know what the percentages are but my experience is that more than half of voters are no information voters. They always and only vote for their party.

    Even listening about the other party’s candidates creates cognitive dissonance so ingrained is their party preference. So they don’t.

    I’m sort of fascinated at the number of my Republican friends whose response to who their choice is for President is “not Hillary”. They know perfectly well that there’s not a qualified Republican candidate but can’t bring themselves to say in public that they’d switch parties.

    What will be interesting is Election Day. Will those people vote not Hillary by staying home or will their cognitive dissonance be resolved by choosing the least bad Republican.

  15. Pete, because I’m not aligned officially with any particular party and never have been, I’m always curious about the polling results from a removed position. I noticed last night that the most recent Reuters poll re: the GOP potential candidates showed Trump’s leading the pack at 40.6% from a rather limited sample of respondents.

    From a personal perspective, Trump is difficult to swallow as a serious candidate; however, I find myself absolutely unable to look at Cruz’s pictures or watch him speak on television. I’m unable to explain my reaction to Cruz other than to say it’s a subjective visceral reaction that makes me cringe.


  16. Here’s something that I ran across recently. Google something like “betting odds presidential election”. You’ll find several sites posting odds of any candidate being elected President this year. Many claim to be way better predictors than poles are.

    Most post very good odds for Hillary.

  17. To Pete – I am often taken aback when I hear “not Hillary” because it seems to me that the speaker has not evaluated the level of qualifying experience of each of the candidates.
    So I reply that Hillary is the candidate most experienced and qualified. Any of the others might benefit from on-the-job training but Hillary is ready on Day One.

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