A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a boy was born. He grew up to become the most wonderful husband and...

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a boy was born. He grew up to become the most wonderful husband and father a woman could ask for, and as I write this we are celebrating his birthday.

My husband’s birthday is today, and one of the greatest gifts this devout Star Wars fan could get is arriving at the end of the week, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will be released in theaters on Friday and he could not be more excited.

Of course he purchased four tickets a month ago. We are already scheduled to go see the movie together as a family on opening day; this is all he really wanted for his birthday. As his birthday approached, along with opening day for the movie, my husband had another request; to watch all of the Star Wars movies in order, starting with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and working our way to Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. We started watching last night with Phantom Menace. The children and I snuggled in with my husband and watched intently. As I sit here typing this, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is on (one movie each night until we reach the BIG DAY of the new Star Wars movie) and I realized, as I did last night, there is a lot to learn from Star Wars.

In Star Wars, the Jedi are the good guys. They represent good and are the peace keepers of the galaxy. In one scene in Phantom Menace, Yoda, the Jedi Master, says the most poignant lines, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.” As I heard this last night, I sat up a bit straighter and thought a little more deeply about the message Star Wars was trying to send. I put it into the context of what is going on now in our country. This has been a terrible year for us, a horrible, terrible, violent, draining, hate-filled year.

The rhetoric spewing from every talking head seems to be driven by the very fear that Master Yoda is referring to. It seems we, as a people, have lost our humanity and are being driven by an invisible fear of…what? Fear of each other, fear of someone different than us, what exactly are we fearful of and why does it cause so much hate? I have pondered this relentlessly for months now, but have felt that the hate has gotten increasingly worse in recent weeks, and Yoda explained it perfectly to me in 25 seconds in Star Wars. People are fearful because they are being told by the media and megalomaniacs running for office to be afraid. Their fear is driving them to anger, and their anger is causing all of this suffering, for we are a world that is suffering so terribly right now.

We need to look deep inside of ourselves and find our humanity. In the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of goodness and light, let us shine our peace on all of those in our community and all of our neighbors; our Jewish neighbors, our Muslim neighbors, our African-American neighbors, our Hispanic neighbors, our Asian neighbors, our homosexual neighbors, our wealthy neighbors, our poor neighbors, our addicted neighbors, our suffering neighbors. Let us love them all, because during these truly tumultuous times, the only way to steer clear of the path to the dark side is to outshine that fear with light and let love and peace follow you all the days of your life. May the force be with you.