Force Beyond Belief
04 May 2019
May the 4th be with the our real-life Jedis in the Humanist Service Corps, Beyond Belief Network, and Humanist Disaster Recovery!
As far as pop culture role models go, Star Wars’ Jedi have a nice bit of humanist wisdom to offer. Space mysticism aside, Yoda and company espouse an ethical code similar to that which we as humanists largely vaunt. Jedi philosophy respects the sanctity of all sentient beings and a society governed by even-headed compassion… not blind obedience, desire, or runaway emotion. They encourage their students to look beyond the tricks our eyes and feelings play on us, and cultivate a more useful equilibrium to serve our fellows.
Not convinced? We've compiled a list of our favorite, most humanist Star Wars quotes for the day.
In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.
-Yoda, Episode II
Humanists seek to create citizens able to speak and write clearly and articulately, capable of engaging in the civic life of their communities and persuading others into ethical action.
We do our part in this arena by supporting our Humanist Service Corps' education programs, and by giving grants to organizations like Inkululeko.
"Wars not make one great."
-Yoda, Episode V
Photo: Steve Baker, 2015
Believing this life is the only one we have makes humanists think very carefully before supporting any war, both because of the loss of life involved and because of the potential impact on the survivors. (This is why we give grants to organizations like Apopo, which helps communities recover from certain ravages of war.)
"Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them." / "Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin. They will betray you."
– Obi Wan Kenobi, Episodes IV and II
Our unexamined perception of the world can be a problematic moral tool. For example, our unfettered feelings urge us to care most about those who look most like us and who we find least threatening… not those who most deserve it. Humanism calls on us to examine how our minds work, and overcome our animal reactions to the world. Having done so, we put our compassion to work in areas of the world that have the greatest real need. (Hence our work in Ghana and Mozambique, for example.)
"Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say that we are encouraged to love."
-Anakin Skywalker, Episode II
(Photo: Keith Trice, 2011.)
We’ll let this one speak for itself.
"Sometimes we must let go of our pride and do what is requested of us."
-Padme, Episode II
This is the essence of humanist service. Most people don't have an immediate desire to pick up trash on a highway, or to fly thousands of miles away to rebuild a storm-ravaged community. But we are often called upon to set aside our egos and be an active part of our local and global communities. It’s up to us to heed the light side of the call to civic service, or the dark side of self-serving.
Even in the galaxy far, far away, there was no supernatural power capable of doing our heroes' work for them. It’s up to human (or humanoid) gumption every time.
On that note…
"Do or do not. There is no try."
-Yoda, Episode V
May the 4th be with all of you.
If the Force is urging you to support the “light side” of humanity today, please consider volunteering or becoming a 10th Anniversary donor at…