As a boy growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, Star Wars had a huge impact on my life. My buddies and I played with Star Wars figures, I’m pretty sure I had Star Wars bedsheets (it was either my brother or I, I’m not sure which), and I remember my dad making an awesome R2D2 birthday cake for me one year. Luke, Han, Vader, the cool ships and creatures, Leia’s slave girl oufit (hey, that was pretty memorable as a 9 year old boy!)…
Star Wars was awesome, and in many ways I see myself as part of the “Star Wars Generation”.
When I was in my mid 20’s it was announced that George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) would be revisiting the Star Wars universe, and myself and a bunch of buddies were pretty excited. A group of us got together and got tickets for the first of the prequel movies – “The Phantom Menace”. I remember the anticipation and the excited buzz from the crowd as we waited in line to see it…
And, well, it kinda sucked.
Over the next few years two more prequel movies came out, and they weren’t very good either. Sure they have some good scenes in them, and some of the character designs are pretty cool (Darth Maul was awesome). But as movies? Well, they are almost unwatchable at times.
I remember thinking maybe it was just nostalgia. Maybe the early movies were just as bad, but I was a kid at the time and I have all these great memories of playing with buddies in the yard.
I don’t think that’s it though. I know the original trilogy really well, and when I go back and watch them they still hold up as solid movies.
The prequels on the other hand? Well, they weren’t great to begin with and the past 15 or so years have not been kind to them.
Over the years I’ve wondered – why are they so bad?
I won’t pretend to *know* why they are so terrible, but based on an interview I remember seeing I have a guess.
When the original trilogy was made, George Lucas was George Lucas. By the time the prequels game out however, he was GEORGE FREAKING LUCAS!!! He was this visionary genius who created a series that was beloved by millions of people and multiple generations across the world. And I suspect he was at a point that people were scared to say no to him – or if they did, he probably didn’t have to care. He was in full creative control. He could make the movies he wanted, however he wanted…
So he did.
Looking back at my early dating days, I remember an argument I had with my first serious girlfriend. We had been out with a group of friends and she said something about one of my buddies (who was with us at the time) that was both inappropriate and out of line. I was pretty upset with her about what she said, so I called her on it; and she didn’t appreciate it.
When we got home that day, we had a fight where she told me that she expected me to always back her up and support her. I told her that in calling her out on what she had said, I *was* actually supporting her – just not in the way she wanted.
As a disclaimer here we were really young at the time, probably in our early 20’s. And at that age she felt that part of “loving someone” was always agreeing with them.
I didn’t see it that way.
Even at that age, I saw value in having your own mind and your own opinions. And in being both able and willing to stand up for them – even when it made things uncomfortable around the people you care about.
Most people don’t like conflict. And perhaps as a result we find ourselves drawn towards people who have similar beliefs. Things are nice and easy when people agree with us, and when we don’t have conflict.
But in some ways, we NEED conflict. We NEED people to challenge us – our ideas and beliefs. In fact, we should be willing to challenge them ourselves. As we grow and change, we need to be willing to ask ourselves if the things we believed in the past are still true.
Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. But if we aren’t willing to challenge them and look at things differently, we will never know.
I’m not the same person I was at 20. Or even at 30. In many aspects I am, but in other aspects I have changed. Sometimes I look back on the person I was, and I shake my head. I wish I could go back in time and shake that younger version of me, and teach him some of the things that I know he struggled to learn. And in another 10 or 20 years, I’m sure I will look back on who I am today and think, geez, I had so much to learn.
We should ALWAYS be wanting to grow, and learn. But that doesn’t happen unless we see reasons to.
And often, to see those reasons we have to first accept that we are wrong.
Thing is, we don’t usually see that on our own. If we knew that our ideas or beliefs were wrong, then we would likely adjust them. But due to our own naiveté or ego, we don’t easily see that.
We only see that when we are forced to face it. Because we have done something wrong or something that has caused harm, either to ourselves or those we care about.
I suspect that I’m no different from most people. It’s nice when people like me, or agree with me, or say nice things about me. And when people don’t, it can be difficult to hear.
But I know I’m not perfect.
I make mistakes, sometimes I’m ignorant, I say stupid things sometimes, and hurt others – just like anyone else.
So for me, I don’t WANT to be surrounded by people who will tell me how great I am. If I had that, how would I grow? Why would I need to?
No, I would argue that perhaps the most important thing in the world is having people around you who are willing to call you out on your bullshit. People who are willing to say no, and to tell you when they think you are wrong.
I want that in all aspects of my life – in my work relationships, in my friendships, and especially in my romantic relationship.
I’m not saying I want to be around people who are disagreeable and will argue for the sake of argument. But I want the people I care about to be comfortable enough with me to argue with me when they feel they need to. And I want to do the same for them.
To me that’s a big part of what love is about. Being each other’s editors; our balances, and our voices of reason.
It may not be comfortable, and we shouldn’t necessarily change our stance to accommodate others. But we should always be willing to listen without getting defensive, and try to understand others points of view.
Because sometimes understanding alternate views will allow us to look at our own in a different light.
And only when we can do that can we truly grow.