Monthly Archives: January 2016

Your words mean something to me

Troublemaker Lover like Fire

So I recently received a message on Tumblr thanking me for doing what I do. And I started to write a reply and realized there was something I really wanted to talk about. And instead of drowning out the Thank you message I decided to make a post here. So here is the issue. I suck at Gratitude and Compliments. I am at a loss. Most of the time I will deflect with a simple thank you and then shut up as if I just sold my voice to Ursula for a pair of legs. Or my main go to is self-deprecating humor. “I got your book Opie.” – “Oh! I am so sorry for you. I apologize for that.” Now most tend to throw this in the self-esteem category. And at one time – that was absolutely correct, but as a Jedi have worked hard on that. Some throw it into the misplaced humility – trying to play at being humble in other words. But again, the whole Jedi thing has ensured this is not the case either. So what is it? Why is it that every time someone thanks me for me work that it is like a little Jedi Trial for me?

When I joined the Jedi Community it was a lot different than it is now. Maybe on the surface it looks pretty similar, but it is very different. The support, the understanding, the experience, all of this was non-existent. We were all kids playing Jedi. Didn’t matter how wise someone thought they were. How well they knew Star Wars quotes. Or Campbell. Or Taoism. Or Stoicism. Or whatever. It was all book knowledge. There was no understanding of application. There was no one who had been living so ingrained in their lives that they had a core understanding of what it meant to live and call yourself a Jedi in everyday life. And because of that there were a lot of mistakes made. And I felt almost like I was lied to. That the Jedi Community was a fraud. I came in search of a Jedi Master – someone who could help me become a Jedi Knight for real. And instead I found Cronyism and Nepotism – which left me (along with many others) with positions and titles I was nowhere near ready for. I wanted to be a Jedi in the worse situations in life. When I was beat down by life – I wanted my knee-jerk reaction to be Jedi.

So I made that determination to be what I was looking for. I trained, studied, and engaged to create the material I had been looking for. I sought to implement change to training, standards, and remove the segregation and cronyism that was infesting our Community. As such I was labelled a Troublemaker. I was an outcast. I was a naysayer. I was written off – “Oh that is just Opie banging his drums again.” I was fighting, arguing, and being looked down upon the entire time. As my frustration grew my Jedi Diplomacy shrank. I’d ask blunt questions. I’d challenge things that didn’t make sense (from certain people made leaders or “Masters”) or lessons that were so fluffy and full of nothing tangible. For over ten years I was looked at as this disruptive and ill-mannered failure of a Jedi who did not radiate the Calm and Peace that we hold to our imaginary Jedi Masters. I was mocked, ignored, and banned by Jedi Masters and Councilors.

When I went through my divorce and had that what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-crisis I really fell apart. There was a lot of support for a so-called troublemaker of the Path. And the Community that should been the most help was just as worthless as when I first started. Platitudes that made excuses for my unJedi-like behavior. Platitudes that told me everything would be alright in the empty hallow way that doesn’t actually help you work through the issues. Left alone to face the darkness that I felt and the darker things I had done in my life. The feeling of failure and a life wasted. Suicide indeed came up as a very valid option more than once during that time. I was suppose to be this senior Jedi – someone with years under his belt. Someone who continually strove to make the Jedi Path better – more tangible – more applicable. I was someone who fought against the pretenders of the Path who just wanted a title. And yet there I was – a supposed Jedi getting into bar fights. Disgraceful.

So – what does this have to do with gratitude and compliments? Wouldn’t this just highlight feeling that they are undeserved and thus why I struggle with them? Nah, it isn’t that. I fought my way back. I took the time to take ALL that material I had been building over the years and live it. I took every lesson, lecture, rambling, and rant I had and read it several times over. I applied it to my life. I went back to basics. I started from the ground up and I worked my way back into a position I felt good about. I built Jedi Living (under different names) into something I felt would reflect that dedication and the result.

I cannot express how happy I am. How much I enjoy and love life. It is not great. I am not where I want to be. I still have a long road ahead of me. But that is what Jedi Living is about. Living as a Jedi and sharing the journey with other Jedi. The ups, the downs, and everything in-between. It was a renewing of the idea of Being the Jedi I wanted to find when I first started. Having the materials that would have helped me on my journey. Not giving any answers. You can’t really. But I can give my experience. My ideas. What I have gained from near thirty years of absolute failure at being a Jedi Knight.

In the past couple of years there has been a shift. I have not been written off. People in the Jedi Community have not been saying mean things behind my back (I mean some still, but that will always exist – you never escape high school :P). People have been sending me messages of Thanks. Of support. Of Encouragement. And I really have no experience – none what-so-ever – in responding to that. Praise? Gratitude? Appreciation? The Hell do I do with that? The past 13 (minus two for the recent years and five for the years I was just a quiet student and observer) years in the online Jedi Community prepared me on how to handle criticism, how to handle bullies, how to handle adversity. I learned that Endurance and Perseverance wins the day, because here we are. 2016. And somehow Opie-Wan Macleod has gone from Community troublemaker to a Jedi who gets message of Gratitude. So I struggle with that. However.

I want to say to anyone reading this. What I want to say to anyone who would thank me or appreciates the time, energy, and effort I have put into this. Just be better than me. All I ask. It may seem daunting if you are just starting out. But I have had over twenty years. And this is as far as I have gotten. I am not done. I am not standing still, but in ten years you can be a way better Jedi than me. You are the next to lead the new generation of Jedi. I fought against an entire Community and now the foundations are there (because of other Jedi, not saying because of me :P). You have lessons, actual academies with lectures based upon experience and understanding – not speculation and wishful thinking. And if somehow I have helped in your path as a Jedi – I am truly – 100% happy. I am glad that I have helped – provided some measure of information to help you grow in a lifestyle and path that you want live. I will never be able to truly express how grateful I am that you feel I have had a positive impact on your path. And if that is just one person – if it is just you (whoever you are reading this right now) – it makes all of it worth it. If I have helped one person achieve their dream of living as a Jedi in everyday life – my investment and life was absolutely worth it in my mind. So I guess if I were to try to make this a lesson the moral would be – be a troublemaker. Challenge – question – fight for what you believe is right. Because you may never get to experience it, but the next generation may very well benefit from your efforts.

So, Thank You! Be a Jedi. That is all the repayment I need. Heck just take some of the ideas and live a positive life – Jedi or not. That works to. And I will continue to do my best to create material that I always wanted. In the hopes that it may help future Jedi achieve their dreams. From the bottom of my heart – Thank you for your words of support and gratitude. I’ll continue to fight for you and the next generation. Love you Jedi.

Jedi vs. Internet Culture (aka Trolling)

Okay. So it has been brought to my virtual door much more than once today (not to mention in the previous days) that “trolling” is (once again – I have been doing this awhile) becoming a problem in the Community. And people have asked me why, how, what to do. So I figured I’d type something up that up be used by whatever Jedi Community that cares to use it. So lets break this down into the two separate issues and then see how we can address it as Jedi.

First, lets take a moment to remind ourselves what being a Jedi is. Personally I like to use a very simple (albeit altered) form of the Jedi Circle. It is as follows:
The Five Practices – Meditation, Physical Fitness, Diplomacy, Awareness, and Self-Discipline.
The Five Tenets – Peace, Knowledge, Serenity, Harmony, and the Force.
The Five Traits – Patience, Objectivity, Reliability, Modesty, and Gratitude.
The Five Truths – Self-Honesty, Learning, Guidance, Sacrifice, Commitment.
The Five Goals – Train Diligently, Render Aid, Defend Those in Need, Provide Support, and Study the Force.

Okay pretty simple and easy stuff. I don’t think there is anything there which anyone would say is – unJedi-like. There might need to be some explanations or something to make people more comfortable with the word choices, but we’ll leave that alone for now. Point here is we can see a very easy and simple outline that we can all reasonably expect any and all Jedi to be following and living by in their daily lives. There is nothing that is really Opie or Jedi Living specific there. So nitpicking aside, we will assume we can use this as our frame of reference and most basic code of conduct.

Next, lets take a look at Internet Culture. It is a very fluid thing that works very well off of interaction of any kind. It seems to thrive in conflict. If you want examples of internet culture head over to 4chan and BuzzFeed for a bit. Enjoy the variety of YouTube comments. It fluctuates between itself on love and hate and really has made a business out of Click-Bait Headlines and ill-informed reporting. Opinion pieces based upon half the information is your basic internet culture and F-U! if you don’t like it. It is silly, entertaining in small doses, but generally just people shouting as loudly as possible and as wildly as possible to be noticed and given attention. And the real catch? That somehow everyone’s opinion is just as valid and just as right. Doesn’t matter if it is factually wrong – each opinion should be allowed its time in the limelight to be heard and mocked and praised.

The Issue? The Jedi Community was born online, has evolved online, and currently uses the online medium as its main source of communication and training. Some people have an issue with this. I do not. Of course I grew up with it. Meaning in 1995 when I first found the seeds of the online Jedi Community and in 1999 when I decided to stop being a spectator I had accepted this medium as capable of teaching the Jedi Way to others. And for the most part that has proven true. And the challenges to it has helped us grow in many ways. In fact I was forced to learn a lot more about English, Typing, and Grammar because of my online interactions with the Jedi Community. I mean, my writing and typing skills still suck, but you should have seen it back in 1999. But I digress.

The Point is the Jedi Community is front and center with Internet Culture. And the more mediums we chose to use (YouTube for example) the more we open ourselves up to internet culture. And this will create conflict because Jedi Culture and Internet Culture do not equal up. They are oil and water, not Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows. So when (not if) we are faced with the troll – what do we do as Jedi? What is a Jedi’s response to Trolling? Well there are two ways to go about this. First Solution – Be a Jedi. Hold other Jedi Accountable to that. Problem solved. Of course if everyone who carried the Jedi title acted as a Jedi we wouldn’t be here. So…. Lets break this down into three things.

1. What is it? – Purposeful and Conscious Offensive Language and Behavior; Meant to incite Extreme (usually negative) Reaction. Unapologetic in its use. It is will use ill-formed sources and false facts to make outrageous and offensive claims.
2. How do we recognize it? – “Sexism doesn’t exist because men can be in abusive relationships to.” That is a comment meant to grab attention and offend every logical sense in your brain. This is why Jedi are very easy targets. Jedi prize Knowledge and reliable information. They enjoy education and growing as a person and society. So attack that with non-sense claims and half-truths and Jedi will automatically want to correct the misinformation being said and spread. The real problem is that often is misinformation is being spread under the Jedi, as the trolls in our Community tend to wield Jedi Knight and Jedi Master titles. I apologize – Very Offensive Example Upcoming, please skip if underage or just don’t want/need it – So when you something like, “Fuck you faggot. You are wrong. Sexism is a socio-political scheme made up by sex-starved women who just want attention.” That is trolling to the fullest. And Jedi Example of Trolling – “If you don’t have a Black Belt you are not a Jedi.” Jedi-Troll. Because it is silly, ill-formed, and meant to cause squabbling.
3. How do we deal with it? And hopefully stop it? – Be a Jedi. Okay okay okay. So how do you deal with it. Remember that Jedi are not an all-tolerant doormat of bigotry. Jedi are to be held accountable for their words. Jedi Knight even more so. Jedi Master even more so. – Opie But Jedi are human- They are, but being a Jedi is a lifestyle. It is part of how we approach topics, discussions, and each other. So hold it to the Jedi Circle. Is this showing patience, awareness, diplomacy? Is this objective and knowledgeable? Know what forget all that. Self-Discipline. If a person, if a Jedi (especially a Knight or Higher) does not have the Self-Discipline to restrain themselves in online communication – where one can easily walk away. Where one has to sit down, type out, and formulate their thoughts. If a Jedi cannot show even self-discipline to respond online in a manner befitting a Jedi (and I don’t mean all rainbows and balloons – a Jedi can be blunt and use Tough Love) then how could you ever believe or expect them to have that self-discipline offline? How can you assume they have self-control in real-time in-person situations when they can’t even pretend to be a Jedi online? Use it to my era’s problem, fake Jedi. Anyhow. How to Stop it? Create a Code of Conduct in line with your Jedi Ideals. Make every single Member aware of it. Hold every single Member Accountable to it (regardless of title or rank). Be Fair, Be Objective, Don’t Play Favorites, Make People Accountable and Responsible for their Words and Actions. Those unwilling – remove them. Problem Solved.

This has been an Opie Rant Brought to by the Letter D.  As in I’m Done.

What are you without the Force?

So recently I saw a rather silly comment in response to a question which asked, what defines a Jedi without lightsabers and the Force? One of the many answers said, “Without the Force a Jedi is a good meaning person who picks too many fights too often for their own good.” Now given the source (a non-Jedi – for good reason we can see) it might be worth passing on addressing this. However I do see a couple of really good points we can explore because of such a remark and draw it back to the original question. And I am going to address this both within the Star Wars universe and for those of us who carry the Jedi label. So first within Star Wars.

Without the Force a Jedi is a good meaning person who picks too many fights too often for their own good. The Star Wars Take:
This is so broken it is tough on where to begin. First, Sith had the Force, this did not make them Jedi. There is a story within the Star Wars Universe of Ulic Qel-Droma. He went undercover to stop a Dark Side cult from the inside. Of course he turned to the Dark Side and became a rather deadly Sith. At the end of the war that arose from these events Ulic was held accountable for his actions. He ultimately turned away from the Dark Side, but long after many had died at his actions and hands. So the Jedi cut him off from the Force and he was sent into exile. The daughter of the Jedi who cut-off his connection to the Force eventually would seek him out for Jedi training. He refused stating he was no longer a Jedi and could not train her as he could not feel the Force anymore. She eventually helped him remember that being a Jedi is a way of life and that training did not require connection, but understanding. So he agreed. This is the point – without the Force a Jedi is still a Jedi. Can they be as awesome and do amazing feats? Not in the context of other Jedi, but a Jedi nonetheless. Another point is Tionne. A Jedi is very limited Force abilities – practically non-existent. She was a great Jedi Historian and Instructor – also a Jedi Knight. These two examples show that the Force was not the defining trait of the Jedi even within the Star Wars Universe.

Now in Star Wars is a Jedi a person who picks too many fights for their own good? I am leaving out the “too often” because once is too often. And that really addresses the whole point here. Jedi use the very ethically questionable Jedi Mind Trick to do ensure one particular thing – to avoid a fight. In fact the only instance that a “Jedi” has picked a fight I can think of is Luke Skywalker confronting Darth Vader. And that can be debated. Now the Prequels has some moments which some might feel fall under this? But Stopping the Sith is not picking a fight. Like Obi-Wan going after Anakin is not picking a fight, is seeking out a person who has murderer several people including children. Same with Yoda confronting Dooku and Palpatine. Mace and company aren’t picking a fight and in fact request surrender. I mean I get way people may throw these instances into the category, but like with Luke I think we can make a case they are less picking fights and more stopping a continuation of improper behavior (to put it mildly in some cases). And in every single one of them (again with maybe an exception to Luke) it was not “for their own good.” Like that logic just doesn’t click at all. It was with an eye towards the big picture and the lasting impact people like Vader would have on the galaxy.

In conclusion, when we look at the Jedi in Star Wars I don’t think we can find one solid example of this. In fact everything we know and have been shown of the Jedi highlights the opposite problem. The extremes they go to avoid fights. The Mind Trick as mentioned. Exile seems a very popular choice. Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, even Kanaan for awhile, all run off into some kind of self-imposed exile. They exile Jedi who fall off the Path to the Dark Side (the story of the original Sith). Peace, Knowledge, Serenity, Harmony, and the Force (the Jedi Code for those unaware) do not add up to – without that last one Jedi are selfish, aggressive individuals who have control issues.

Without the Force a Jedi is a good meaning person who picks too many fights too often for their own good. The Jedi Take:
If you call yourself a Jedi – you have failed as soon as you have picked a fight. Done. Bam. That is easy. Nowhere in Jedi Philosophy, practices, ideals, concepts, nowhere is it found acceptable for a Jedi to ever go a pick a fight. Not for themselves. Not for others. Jedi Rules of Behavior – Conquer Aggression. Jedi Rules of Behavior – Honor Life. Jedi Rules of Behavior – Overcome Recklessness. Jedi Code – Peace. Jedi Code – Serenity. Jedi Code – Harmony. Skywalker Code (or Jedi Creed) – Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.  Skywalker Code (or Jedi Creed) – Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.  Skywalker Code (or Jedi Creed) – Jedi respect all life, in any form.

Nowhere in our philosophy is there room for someone labelled a Jedi to pick a fight, ever, for any reason. It is simply not there. Not in our Inspiration/Lore. Not in our core texts. Not in our application of the Path.

Look – within the Jedi Community there are varying beliefs and views on what the Force is. And that is cool and awesome and allows us to explore that wonderful concept with openness and honesty. Of course in that there are many ways for a Jedi to feel that they do have the Force as prescribed by others. Which – again is okay. Because whether you “have the Force” by some other Jedi’s definition is irrelevant to the Path. It does not affect what the Jedi Way is. The Jedi Lifestyle still requires a person to live within a certain box (a rather big box I like to say, but a box nonetheless) and that box does not allow for a person to call themselves a Jedi and run around picking fights. Just so we are clear.

Sure Opie – this all seems pretty clear. I mean, that comment doesn’t seem to warrant any attention at all. This all is pretty basic stuff – so why address it? Great point imaginary reader. Well it bothers me because the person who said it is often looked up to (even to this day) in the Jedi Community. They once held titles like Jedi Knight and Jedi Master. So people still look to this person as someone who has insight into the Jedi Path. Which clearly they do not; nor have they ever really (personal opinion there). So I wanted to at least put together some sort of counterpoint. IN the hopes that people might be a bit more discerning in their view of Jedi (in Star Wars and outside of it) as well as those they look to for answers on it. Don’t ever hold a person above information. Meaning if I say something absurd, don’t just accept it because I said so. Look at it, make sure it holds up to reason. Look at the material, not the person. Is the message sound? Is the material worthwhile? Let that speak for itself, not some resume which fails to acknowledge that people change and are fallible. Challenge absurdity.