Yoda says: hate is the Dark Side of the Force. There is serious truth in Yoda’s teachings, especially in relation to the recent presidential debate. Yes this is super nerdy, but hear me out!
Yoda —The world’s favorite Jedi Master — is loaded with wisdom
In my favorite Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, Master Yoda trains Luke Skywalker on Dagobah and warns, “beware the Das Side. Anger, fear, aggression The Dark Side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.” In my least favorite Star Wars movie, the Phantom Menace, Yoda teaches, “…anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” What does this have to do with our political climate you may ask? Well, we are seeing a lot of anger and hatred in our politics, our world and even ourselves.
Our political climate and the internet
The first presidential debate was extremely controversial. I’ll say away from explicitly picking sides here, but it seems that there is a LOT of turmoil. There’s an overwhelming sense of animosity, or even hatred as people throw vicious attacks at each other.
The internet allows anyone and everyone to voice their opinions. The network that’s supposed to connect us all, seems more like a huge factor of today’s societal divide. For example, disagreements on politics seem like personal attacks now more than ever. Attacks could easily take the form of racism, harassment, cyberbullying or trolling and may be used against a neighbor, boss, co-worker or family member. I’ve quickly noticed that platforms, especially Twitter, have served to fuel hate speech.
Anger and hate not only affect people around us, but it also affects ourselves. Basically, when we are angry the fight/flight/freeze reflex is triggered. This natural response floods our bodies with adrenal and cortisol (the stress hormone). The long-term effects of sustained anger and hatred are profound and include:
- Increases the risk of heart attack
- Increases the risk of stroke
- Decreases the immune system
- Increases anxiety
- Increases depression
- Harms the lunch
- Shortens our life span
Additionally, sustaining hatred undermines our own happiness. The Dalai Lama explains this in his book The Art of Happiness, but put simply, our inner peace is compromised when we hold feelings of anger.
One of my favorite quotes (by father of Western Psychology William James) is: Our experience is what we choose to attend to. Meaning, that when we focus our attention on hatred, anger and resentment, it begins to define our daily lives. Thus, harming your well-being as well as others. Research by Drs. Christakis and Fowler show that happiness and hated have contagious qualities. Therefore, if you are happy your feelings of warmth, joy and compassion will spread to those within your social network. Similarly if you feel angry or disturbed, those negative emotions will radiate as well.
The main takeaway: We must be careful because we are all in peril of being consumed by the DarkSide of the Force!