Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friend or Foe?

I had a very important conversation with Jacob this morning. It was about a particular person and whether he was really good or really evil.

At first, Jacob wanted to maintain that there were two different people. One person gave him high fives at the comic shop and was a nice guy every time they met. The other person was a bad guy in one of the books we've read quite often, both in Maryland and here. That book is Star Wars: A Pop Up Guide to the Galaxy, and the person is Darth Vader.

Jacob has met him twice at Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Maryland, and both times Jacob had a lot of fun and found Vader to be fun. The second time I spent a good deal of time explaining that Vader is not a robot but I guy in a suit of armor. Jacob eventually understood. The unique armor was probably confusing. We also saw him at a 4th of July parade.

Shaking hands with the nice man in the black suit

Lucy looks a little more cautious, but she was young then.

Of course, the book paints an entirely different picture of Darth Vader, based as it is on the stories told about him in the movies. In fact, on the cover he has the sort of menacing, red eyes that he never has in real life, or even in the movies for that matter. But every story needs a bad guy. And, let's be honest, he was a very bad guy.

A depiction only a mother could love

Being a fan of Star Wars, I felt conflicted about what to tell my son. Clearly, I could have told a fib and said they were twins (which apparently runs in the Skywalker family) but that would be a lie. Darth Vader is only one person. So I explained how some people can change, and even change quite radically. Originally, he was a bad person but then he changed and became a good person. I compared him to the Grinch. We borrowed How the Grinch Stole Christmas from the library and have read it several times. In the book (in case you haven't read it or seen the delightful cartoon version, this is a massive spoiler) the Grinch's heart grows three sizes and he is inspired to be a good person. So good that he himself, the Grinch, carves the roast beast (a feast he can't stand in the least!). Jacob was satisfied with the argument.

I also am satisfied with the argument. Vader did have a change of heart at the end. He might even have led a reformed life like those two famous Christmas converts, the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge. No one in this life is so evil that he can't turn away from evil and toward the good. The turn might be difficult and involve extraordinary circumstances or new insights about what is important in life. But it is not impossible and we must hope and pray for our enemies, that they will forsake evil and seek instead the true good. Jacob (and all of us) need to learn such truths and live by them. It is a very important conversation we had today.


  1. Love your reflection. It is one I often think of, except in the reverse. I love that movie poster of very young Anakin Skywalker. He casts a shadow in the shape of a shadow that Darth Vader would make.

    Anyway, it reminds me that we do have the power to change and that regardless how good we might be now, we must be vigilant, so as not to lose that precious goodness.

  2. That is a great poster, easily my favorite Star Wars poster of any because it says so much with so little. You bring out a great point too. Thanks!