So last night I had the pleasure to watch the final installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi, with my boys. As you might expect, they liked the spaceships and the space battles and the lightsaber duels. Neal especially has enjoyed the movies because he is in an all-about-space-and-rockets phase right now and this was right up his alley.
Neal is a sensitive kid and he has always shown great concern if someone is hurting, but I was a little taken aback with his reaction to the final moments of the movie. Specifically, when Vader made the choice to toss the Emperor down the shaft in order to save his son, Luke, even though it cost him his own life, Neal became quite distraught, to the point of tears. We asked him what was wrong to which he replied, “Darth Vader made a good choice and he still had to die!?!?”
Hmmmm…how to respond. We’ve been trying to make the point with our boys that they are responsible for the choices they make. Good choices have good consequences and bad choices have bad consequences. My soon-to-be six year old just discovered a flaw in the parental logic, or at the very least, an exception to the rule. On the one hand, I truly believe that he understood the sacrifice Anakin/Vader made and he was moved by the demonstration of a truly sacrificial love. But on the other hand, I think alarms and sirens were going off in his kindergarten mind warning him that what Mommy and Daddy have been telling him wasn’t adding up. Where’s the good consequence in this case?
Being sympathetic to his feelings, Steph and I took the opportunity to chat with him about perspective, even though we didn’t use that word. We talked about the good things that happened because of Vader’s choice. In the Special Edition version (I know, but it’s all I have on DVD) you see celebration break out on several different planets and in different cities. We explained that everyone was celebrating that peace had been restored and that the Emperor could no longer hurt anyone else. That’s a good consequence of the good choice Vader made.
Neal was also concerned that Luke would never see his father again. For a six-year-old, Neal’s already been exposed to death and is keenly aware of the concept. He is also not too fond of the idea at this time. Who can blame him, right? But as a parent, I believe a moment like this deserves a little discussion. As the movie ends, and we see Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin standing together as spirits, observing the festivities, we talked about the hope of Heaven, though like I mentioned above about “perspective”, not in those terms. We did point out, and emphasize, the fact that Luke got to see not just his father, but his friends Yoda and Obi-Wan, too, because it was only their bodies that had died. Their spirits, just like our spirits, will live on forever.
Love. Failure. Hope. Sacrifice. Redemption. Love. Isn’t this our collective story? Haven’t we all experienced these things because of both good and bad choices we’ve made? We told Neal that God loves us like Darth Vader, Luke’s Father, loved him. And that He loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice everything in order to save us all and restore peace so that our spirits would live forever. Together. He seemed relieved.
As we tucked in and got ready to say our prayers, we decided to thank God for our fun time together and for loving us like Darth Vader loved Luke.