Truth is often stranger than fiction but through our fiction we often see some of our most important truths. For me, Star Wars has been an extremely influential piece of fiction. From the pure story-telling to the philosophical concepts explored in the movies, the stories have enriched my life in so many ways. A few weeks ago, I made a realization that I had never considered before and I was giddy with excitement.
In the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader becomes one of the most evil people in the universe based mostly on two events: the deaths of his mother and wife. These two losses seemingly catapult an extremely talented young man toward a path of destruction. Even though the story of Darth Vader is completely fictitious, it is not a far stretch from reality that we see every day. People use the events of their lives as a justification for their later choices. The truth in the fiction of Darth Vader is that he chose to be evil in wake of what happened. This becomes ever more evident when juxtaposed with my favorite president.
In the world of reality, Teddy Roosevelt faced the exact same circumstances. His mother and his wife both died within a day of each other. Given that same pair of tragedies, Roosevelt could have chosen to lament his misfortune and lash out at the world that dealt him a poor hand. Quite the opposite, he chose to become one of our most influential leaders. The effects of many of his policies are still felt today in the National Parks and business practices. The key was the choice.
Many people forget that they have a choice. Although humans can sometimes act like stimulus/response animals, choice is a power that we almost always have. The problem comes when people assume that circumstances dictate their actions. Your biography is not the crystal ball that shows your future. Just because you’ve been disappointed, letdown, screwed over and depressed in the past does not mean that you need to continue along that path. Also the fact that you’ve been successful, fortunate and lauded does not mean that you always will be. Choices in the present will change your future much more than the circumstances of your present. Will you choose to destroy planets or start a system of National Parks? Only you get to choose.