Five Jedi Life Lessons

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1. Stay True to Your Word
“Easy it becomes to be false in big things, if false you are in small ones.” – Yoda
Do what you say you will do. It is really that simple. Don’t promise anything you aren’t comfortable with. If you really don’t want to do something and feel you won’t follow through (making plans to hangout, helping someone move, whatever) then don’t say you will do it. Say what you mean and do what you say. In this you will build a solid reputation and honor to your word.

2. Don’t be a Bystander
“Courage was something a Jedi did not think about. It was simply the will to do right. It was the discipline to move forward.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
It can be scary to stand-up for what is right. Equality, fairness, not to allow bullying. The silent observer is much safer and certainly has a time and place. But if something feels wrong it is okay to say something. Don’t stand on the sideline of your life. Don’t allow fear to make to accept hurtful and unfair behavior. The way we make changes and stop such things is by standing up and saying something. Showing that we will not allow such behavior to go unchecked.

3. Make a Change for the Better
“Must relax…reach out with my mind…reach inside…through the pain…renew!” – Ki-Adi-Mundi
Look in the mirror and commit to a positive change. Be willing to sacrifice who you are for who you want to become. You want to be a Jedi? Then be a Jedi. Commit to the practices and philosophy. Live it and understand that it will change how you see and approach life. This goes for all things. Make the effort to be better. At school, at work, in your social relationships, commit yourself to working pass the obstacles, fears, and pain, and being the best version of you possible.

4. Focus on Problem Solving, Not Problem Blaming
“If all who faced adversity surrendered to it, nothing of value would remain.” – Plo Koon
It doesn’t matter where the fault and blame lies. What matters is finding a solution and resolution to the problem at hand. We can point fingers and pass blame all we want – but it doesn’t matter if it was our fault or someone else’s. Focus instead on fixing and oslving the problems. Fault might be necessary for stopping an issue at its root, but don’t get so caught up in blame that you miss the core fixes and ways to avoid the similar problems in the future.

5. Act Now Not Later
“Use your time. You’ll find one day that you have too little of it.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
The best place you can apply this in chores and tasks and homework and all that stuff that most people want to put off. Forget that. Play the Nike slogan- Just Do It. Better to get it done and out of the way now and use the time later on for fun things. Focus on responsibilities, get them done and out of the way so you can enjoy what time you have left. Focus on the here and now. Handle your responsibilities. When asked to do something – stop, take care of it right then, and get back to doing things you’d preferring to do. This also applies to number 2. Don’t wait until things are out of control or too late. Act now, get it done, solve the problem, move forward.

Pokemon Go + Jedi = Charity!

First off I have to say I haven’t been into Pokemon for a long time. It is not really my thing, but when I was younger and it was relatively new – I did partake in the cartoon and games. But now they have released this new App Pokemon Go and it is not only pretty fun, but has really encouraged kids (of all ages) to get outside and walk around. So how does that work? Well it is simple. Pokemon Go is a ARG – Alternate Reality Game. In which you use your phone to track your movement/walks and stumble upon Pokemon out in the world. When that happens you pull up your camera and you use Poke Balls to catch the Pokemon. You collect as many as possible. And you find new Pokemon by going to new locations. Parks and major shopping areas tend to have stores and Gyms where you can connect with others. Overall it is a pretty interactive and fun little App that encourages outdoor exploration.

This has really come in handy in a couple service projects I am a part of. One is a little more limited in application – as it is with the Big Brother (Big Sister) program. And has really helped turn our little hikes into more regular events and much more interactive as well. This has been a great thing as we were struggling in common ground activities there for a bit. Especially in more active (and free) activities.  So this has help create a fun way to hike around and explore the city we live in. Driving to different parks, walking around the paths, hiking in the hills. It has really been a great experience. However this is a very personal experience and limited really to my current situation. There is a way to use Pokemon Go and your normal Dog Walks to help a great organization.

The WoofTrax App (http://www.wooftrax.com/) is a great thing I have been using recently which tracks your dog walks and helps support a local shelter in your area (or if there is not one in your area – a animal shelter of your choosing). Can you see the connection? Download WoofTrax, Download Pokemon Go, get out there and catch them all at the same time as supporting a great organization. If you don’t have a dog you can virtually walk their own rescue dog. This has been a great blend of modern technology, internet fade, and doing some community service.

No one said Community Service had to be trying, boring, or no fun. Blend your passions. Be a Jedi. Catch ALL the Pokemon. And support a wonderful cause at the same time.

Opie Rant: Why I’m Starting to Dislike “National” Jedi Gatherings

So as someone who has been to many “National” Jedi Gatherings. As well as someone who has met a lot of Jedi individually and been to smaller Jedi meet-ups and regional Gatherings. I am often asked my opinion of such events and what it is like to meet other Jedi. In a recent post on facebook I joked about the ability to deal with your peers in the community and remain sober at the same time. Or to be more accurate I quoted one of my favorite authors Ernest Hemingway, “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” Out of this someone further asked why I felt that way. So to clear the air. Here are my top issues with current National Jedi Gatherings; which mainly boils down to I don’t like the direction they are taking from what they were.

1.) Location-Centric.
What we concern the First National Jedi Gathering happened in Great Falls, Montana. Two West Coast Jedi went. Two Montana Jedi went. A Chicago Jedi went. And an East Coast Jedi went. While all Jedi went to the Jedi Organization website, they all were a major part of different Jedi Groups. Alora from the JO, Destiny from the Jedi Temple, Manna from a couple different sites, Mindas from the JO but started at the Jedi Academy, Mijan from Temple of the Jedi Arts, and myself which we won’t get into my long resume at the time. This is why we consider it the first National Jedi Gathering (back then called the Annual Jedi Gathering – now National as they are United States held and more than one gathering can happen in a year).

The next year it was held on the East Coast (Pennsylvania) and hosted by Moonshadow, who would become the main organizer for years to come. The year after that, in 2004 it was held in Michigan. In 2005 the Jedi Gathering was held in Loudonville, Ohio. In 2006: Big Prairie, Ohio as well as Lehighton, Pennsylvania. In 2007 the Gathering was in Ville Platte, Louisiana (and another that year in Angelica, New York). In 2008: Lincoln City, Indiana as well as another in Lehighton, Pennsylvania later that year. In 2009: Tower Hill Camp, Sawyer, Michigan. In 2010: Tower Hill Camp, Sawyer, Michigan. – No that is not a mistake. In 2011: New Caney, Texas. In 2012: Logan, Ohio. In 2013: Cosby, Tennessee. In 2014: Almont, Michigan. In 2015: Was suppose to be in Colorado. A year long planning was already in the works. However Chicago Jedi and future Indiana Jedi wanted to host one. So they usurped 2015 and the National Gathering was held in Martinsville, Indiana.

2016 is set for Oregon, Illinois. You know, an hour outside Chicago basically. Have you detected a trend or pattern? 10 out of 15 have been in a very specific area of the United States. I find this to be a form of exclusion. It keeps it to a specific location and group of people. As such you get an insular view and growth becomes limited. It becomes a cool kids club. And evidence of this already happening has been evident the past couple of years – none moreso than the usurping of the national gathering to keep it close and help someone get to knighthood faster. To be fair – this supposedly will be changing next year and routing locations every year. We shall see if Midwest Jedi like that idea.

2.) “Mandatory” Classes and Schedules.
In the beginning gatherings were very organic. No classes and definitely no schedule. Ideas, sure. Thoughts on what we might do at a location? Absolutely. But nothing was planned out. Mostly you went – Jedi got together. Discussions were had. And people would offered by classes and teachings. As the gatherings grew loose schedules were put into place. Someone wants to teach reiki? They say so. And when we have some time – “Hey guys. I am going to show Jedi So-So some Reiki, anyone else want to join?” And bam! Jedi Learning time. Now it is a strict schedule that implies that classes are mandatory – as other events are listed as “optional” while classes are not. Due to this lack of organic sharing the classes have changed a bit in tone and structure. It is a bit hard to fully write out because it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who holds a class. But there is a sense more of spotlight desire and less on actual sharing of knowledge and technique. The feeling between the 2015 National Gathering and the 2016 California Gathering was night and day. And this was one of the major differences.

3.) Room Assignments.
One of the things that I always thought was interesting about gatherings was how sleeping arrangements came about. Basically it was everyone staying up late, holding discussions on various Jedi topics. Laughing, having a good time. And as it got later, Jedi would slowly bow out and go claim a bed. This automatically helped put Jedi together with a similar sleep schedule. It obviously also allowed Jedi who wanted to stay up and talk to find sleeping arrangements near one another. And if one room was a bit more rowdy they tended to automatically find each other before night time even began. There was no pre-arrangement – no one told you who you were sleeping with.

Now you are just put together according to the whims of the organizer. Which I find silly. You get stuck with people who snore and go to bed early? That is just your lot. You like to go to bed early and get up early? But two of your roommates hit it off and are chit-chatting all night? Tough break. If there is extra beds and two people want to grab a room to avoid disturbing others? So sorry. It is almost like we cannot trust Jedi to be adults. Which brings us to our next issue.

4.) Prohibiting Alcohol.
As the gatherings grew in number, drama became more commonplace. This happens with any meeting of multiple individuals with diverse backgrounds and opinions. This is not a bad thing. It is part of what makes our community interesting, fun, and educational. Last year a person went around an entire night bad mouthing another “Jedi”, questing if they were worthy of that title. Someone else crossed personal boundaries. As alcohol was present (though neither offender partook of said alcohol) the blame was placed there instead of the individual behavior. This has happened at all gatherings since 2012. Incidents happen which are interesting and some take issue with. And since alcohol is present it takes the blame instead of holding the individual Jedi accountable and responsible for their actions. So places are specifically looked for which prohibit alcohol as a way for the organizers to defer responsibility. “They didn’t ban alcohol. It is the rules of the place.”

I find this childish. Jedi who are adults – who take vacation time to attend these gatherings – should be allowed to consume whatever legal substance they desire. Want to drink that horrible for you soda? Cool. You’re an adult and allowed to take responsibility for your own behavior, training, and life as a Jedi. Want to have a beer or mead? Cool. You’re an adult and allowed to take responsibility for your own behavior, training, and life as a Jedi.

5.) Monetizing Gatherings.
Marketplace. Selling Ad. With no clear indication where said money is going. Maybe to helping other Jedi come to future gatherings? Maybe? Hopefully? But who manages that? What oversight is there? What allows one person to earn that money over another? What happens if the person in-charge of the money decides to leave the Jedi Path? What if they are not involved with next year’s national gathering because it is suppose to change locations (east or west coast)? Not that has been said where the money is going – but I have heard that as the most popular choice – a gathering fund.

More then any of that – Why are Jedi the Charity? Jedi is a lifestyle not a charity. We are suppose to be helping others. If you cannot help yourself than going to a Jedi Gathering should not be your top priority. You save up. You budget. A year out. Two years out. You plan, you save, if it is that important you make it happen. 10 dollars a month for two years. 240 dollars right there. That will easily get you a spot. The average price to attend over the past couple of years has been about 200 dollars. Need to travel there? Greyhound. Save 20 dollars instead of ten. Bam. You are at the 2018 Gathering. Jedi help themselves so that they may better help others. If you cannot help yourself – how can you fulfill the Jedi goals of service?

Be a Jedi. Live as a Jedi. If you do that. If you truly embrace the path fully. I promise you’ll be in a position to go to a Jedi Gathering within a couple of years. No doubt in my mind. Maybe even one – depending. It is withint he realm of possibility. So there is no reason for these things to start turning into money machines for the hosts. It is a service. It is something for Jedi to celebrate being Jedi and sharing their experiences and knowledge with one another. But more and more it is turning away from that. I feel next we will be paying for individual classes of so-called Jedi who purchased a booth to spout their rhetoric. And does that really sound like any sort of fun?

5 Life Lessons from Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker

Life is this crazy, wondrous, beautiful, and ever-changing thing. It is not always easy to navigate its fast and flowing currents and we can find ourselves a bit lost on how to proceed. Often in these times we look to areas which inspire us. People who have attained the goals they pursued. Or characters which we have come to identify with. For many Jedi that has been a lowly whiny farm boy turned confident hero, Luke Skywalker. Here we explore some quotes of the character for a little advice in life.

“It was never too late to correct a mistake.” – Luke Skywalker
It is going to happen – at some point you are going to make a mistakes. Gasp! Shock! Surprise! You will find a choice you made was not the best one and it had an affect on your life. But not everything is written in stone. Often sometimes we can adjust and make the most of a mistake. We can correct our course. We can apply the freshly learned lesson and make-up for a poor decision. Pencils have erasers because mistakes happens and sometimes we can correct them. That correction may take time, it may take years, but don’t just surrender yourself to a bad outcome. You are alive. You are wiser. You are capable of correcting past mistakes.

“Wishing that things were otherwise does nothing to erase memories. Wounds do not heal by ignoring them.” – Luke Skywalker
There are plenty of things in life that can leave a mark. Times we want like to change. But none of us have a time machine. Dreaming and wishing you could change things doesn’t affect anything. You cannot live life looking backwards. It is like driving a forward while staring in the rear-view mirror. Torturing yourself over the past only serves to blind you to what is in front of you. Learn from the past. Eventually accept and come to terms with the past. You cannot change it, but you can use it to help build a brighter future.

“Having more experience doesn’t mean making difficult decisions are easier, but it does let you know that sometimes the tough decisions must be made.” – Luke Skywalker
I have been doing this Jedi thing for, well, longer than most – lets just say that. And there are times in life when it is still difficult to Jedi-up and do the Jedi thing. When you first begin the training you’ll find plenty of obstacles and hurdles, but eventually a lot of those become easy and second-nature practices. Yet no matter how long you live, how long you are a Jedi, there will always be a time when you are faced with a tough decision and it is still a tough decision to make. But experience does remind you of one important thing – not making a decision is still making a decision. When presented with choices, you must move forward as best you can. Use your experience and training and make a decision you feel best.

“It was good for a Jedi to question… Discipline was necessary, but unquestioning obedience was a limiting thing, not a growing one.” – Luke Skywalker
When one first starts out on a path they are taking a lot of things on faith. They are assuming the practices and lessons are made out of experience and will lead to positive and beneficial changes. So not every little thing is questioned and faith is put into the instructors. Such is nice, but one should never follow blindly. If you don’t understand something, ask. If you do agree with soemthing, talk it out. If you something just doesn’t seem right, then discuss it. You can respectfully question material, methods, and practices. You can question traditions and why things are. This is a great tool in learning. Any real instructor will appreciate the questions because not everything is always covered in the lesson plan. Exploration is necessary. So dig into it and should you ever have a question – ask.

“Your overconfidence is your weakness.” – Luke Skywalker
It is absolutely important to believe in yourself. It is important to your know yourself. Your weaknesses, your strengths, and your limits are all core self-knowledge items. Some people will mistakes confidence and self-knowledge as arrogance and over-confidence. Know yourself and hold to it. Humility is knowing your strengths and using to them, not bragging about them. Still you will need to be careful of over-confidence. It blinds a person not only to their own flaws and weaknesses. It starts to rely heavily on assumption and begins to ignore information counter to your own belief. A small danger can become a huge one if you start to believe yourself infallible and untouchable. Over-confidence is a weakness that will cause you to get blindsided a harsh reality. Assume you can do anything and you’ll quickly find out how incorrect that is. Know yourself and know your obstacles and you will always overcome them (one way or another). So be objective, honest, and fair with yourself and you will grow into a very capable person.

Five Steps to Jedi Acceptance

 


First understand that there are different levels of acceptance. This isn’t an all or done sort of thing. Understand that acceptance doesn’t mean passivity. Acceptance does not equal inaction. Just because you accept your boss is a jerk and accept that is who they are, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about your situation. The first step to correcting any problem is accepting that there is a problem. You need to acknowledge and accept the issue then you can begin to work on it. This is the first level of acceptance – that there is something you need to address.

Next step is to understand not everything is about you. When someone is a jerk (using our previous example) that is about them. Even if they seem to only be a jerk to you specifically, it is still their issue. They are the one with the problem and inability to express and communicate like a rational adult. Instead of addressing whatever -their- issue may be, they have decided to act out in a childish manner. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own issues. Once you can accept that it isn’t about you then you can focus on what you can do.

The next step is a bit tricky, because it does have something to do with you. More specifically you have to be aware of your motivations. A lot of our inability to accept something is because we have a very strong desire to be something else. We cannot accept that this person is a jerk because we expect and want them to be better. We expect them to be someone of quality and hold them to our own standards. It is not allowing people to be their normal messed up selves. So we find we cannot accept a situation because we have this expectation. The question then is – why do you have this expectation? What is motivating this desire to see a different reality then the one being presented to you? Try to let go of those expectations and simply accept what is presented to you and work from that rather than an idea of what it “should” be.

This brings us to our next step which is probably the most helpful. Your focus determines your reality, right? So adjust focus on solutions, not problems. You have probably heard that presented to you a bunch of times. The reason being is because it does wonders. When faced with a tough situation turn your eyes toward solutions rather than blame. Don’t look to blame anyone, including yourself, it is wasted effort. Instead find the solutions to the issue. There are usually many options available so look for them. Work through them. Find the best option for you. And if there is no solution to be had – look for the things within your control. What can you do? Where can you put your time, energy, and focus? Accept that you have control over you and where you put your time and energy and then use that ability to focus on more productive and happier things.

Last step is the over-used let it go. Don’t hang onto the past. You do what you do and then move forward. You make your decision and move forward. You don’t have a time machine. You cannot go back and change things, but what you can do is live in this moment to your fullest. You can learn from the past and use it to help create a brighter future. Shouldn’t have skipped that workout? You let that guilt go and when a day comes and you don’t feel like working out, you do a light workout knowing at least you did something. Stepped in some gum? Deep breath, done deal now, scrap it off, and move forward. Should have taken that job offer a couple years back? Keep an eye for a similar opportunity, never too late to take a new direction in life.

Acknowledge, Accept, Act (inaction counts, sometimes patience is the best action), and Move Forward. Acceptance is about realizing that we are always in motion, always moving forward. We have no reverse in this life. So deep breath – what is done is done – the question is now what – then go do that smarter and wiser for it.

Battling the Dark Side Five Tips from Qui-Gon Jinn

Battling the Dark Side – Five Tips from Qui-Gon Jinn
quigonjinn by wynahiros

Overcome Over-Thinking.
Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts. – Qui-Gon Jinn
It is going to happen. You are going to feel down. You are going to feel like you are in a dark place. That is okay. Don’t over-think it. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the repetitive trap of circular thinking. It is easy to get caught up in that down spiral of thought and rumination. Instead give yourself direction. Focus on the small steps. The obtainable goals. The little things you can do within this moment. Let go of the loftier goals and take your first steps toward the little accomplishments. Problem-solve rather than getting lost in the problem.

Nicely Done.
Your focus determines your reality. – Qui-Gon Jinn
When you feel in a dark place your judgment and thinking process can be clouded (and often is). To help balance that you need to remind yourself of a couple of facts. The first being the simple fact that you have survived this long. While you have faced many challenges and uphill battles you are in fact alive and not doing too bad for yourself. Especially considering what you have faced. You are alive and still capable of great things. Second, remind yourself of the good things you have done in the day (a worthy practice). All the little things and big things. Making someone smile. Helping someone out without recognition or credit. Feeling completely depressed and still getting in a 7 minute workout (available in the app store). Taking a couple minutes for meditation. Getting the dishes done though it was the last thing you wanted to do. Remind yourself of the good things and help balance your perspective. It isn’t all bad and you are moving one step at a time toward your goals.

The Present is a Present.
Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs. – Qui-Gon Jinn
The Past will get you every time. It is a dark place. Not because of events or happenings. But even the best memories can trap you from seeing what is happening right now in your life. You cannot drive forward while looking backwards, just as you cannot live life looking backwards. You are bound to crash eventually. Focus on the road ahead and just like driving you can only look so far down the road before it hinders what is in front of you. You have to stay present and aware. Look, you do not have a time machine. There is no going back. You have made mistakes. You probably have regrets. Things you’d like to do over. Meh. Such is life. Guess what, you just might get that second chance. But you will miss it, if you are not paying attention. So learn from the past. Then let it go. Mark the lessons. Look at those past events as prep work. Lessons for you to apply to your life now. And then live in the Now fully prepared with the life lessons you have earned the hard way.

The Future is in Motion.
You cannot prevent what you cannot see coming. You can only do what you think is right at each moment as you live it. We can plan, hope, and dread the future. What we cannot do is know it. – Qui-Gon Jinn
You can plan for the future. You can set goals, have dreams, and develop a plan of attack. Ultimately however you must live within the moment of day. You have to focus on where you are to get to where you are going. By working hard and wisely you can do your future self a favor. You can put yourself in a position to make your dreams come true, but that starts here and now. This moment, each moment, is when you begin making your goals into reality. So set down your plans and goals. Have an idea of how you are going to get there. But keep track of what you are doing each day to make it happen. Be fluid in your approach and adjust your sails as you need to.

Know Yourself.
You must be sure of what you want and believe. Sometimes the way will be confused, but allow yourself the time to understand yourself. – Qui-Gon Jinn
You are not defined by your past. Things which have happened to you do not define who you are. Take the time to really get to know you and your goals. What makes you – you. Then take the time to determine who you wish to be. Who do you want to become? Then start taking the steps to get there. One step at a time. One day at a time. Move forward with patience and trust in yourself. But don’t feel you have to do this alone. You are not alone. You have a social support structure there for you. Friends, Family, the Jedi Community even. Keep note of the people who help you move forward. Do not be afraid to lean on your friends when you feel tired and weak. It is okay to need a hand. You will need time to pick yourself up and get ready to attack life once again. Give yourself that time. Be patient and work steadily toward your dreams. Take the time to really get to know yourself. Your motivations, likes, dislikes, and what drives you. Push yourself when necessary and allow yourself time to rest and revitalize when necessary. Develop a basic schedule that works for you. A daily one and a realistic longer term one. Then take it a day at time adjusting as needed.

Tips for Remembering Your Jedi-Self

Yoda-Meditating

Everyone is a Critic.
Don’t lose track of the praise even in a stream of constructive criticism. Or vice versa.” – Luke Skywalker
More so in this day and age. The ease of putting out content and the ease of people being able to directly respond to said content (YouTube for example) has really helped the rise of the critic. Everyone feels their two cents is worth shouting from the rooftops – and it just might be. However the thing to reminder is not to get so caught up in all the critics and naysayers. Do what you do because you enjoy doing it. Know yourself, your goals, and keep to it. Don’t focus in on the negative things other people think or say you are. Take criticism with a grain of salt and use Jedi Self-Reflection practices as a way to stay grounded and focused on your goals.

Make Mistakes.
One can fail at a task but still learn the lesson.” – Luminara Unduli
You are going to. It is going to happen. No doubt you already have a few on your record. You are still here. Probably wiser for them. You live, you mess up, you learn, you grow. Sometimes we get success first try. That is nice. And refreshing. And it sucks when we try and fail. It doesn’t feel good to work towards something and fall flat. No fun. Especially when we are like – “that was just a boneheaded mistake. I am better than that.” But it does happen. Don’t live in fear of mistakes. You will have areas of weakness. You are not some all-knowing, all-powerful Jedi that is incapable of mistakes. Only I am that awesome as a Jedi ;). You work on areas that need improvement. You keep your strengths sharp. And when you make a mistake you acknowledge it, learn from it, and move forward wiser for it.

You Have Grown.
Patience. A Jedi you still are, and with you is the strength to overcome.” – Yoda
So if I met my 1999 self – that kid would get a stern lecturing and probably a few marshmallows thrown at his head (not a bad kid, just a bit misguided). My 2006 self? I’d just punch that dude in the mouth (eff that dude). You are not who you were, and in ten years? You are not going to be who you are now. Hopefully these changes and growth are for the better. A place you are good with and happy to continue to move forward from. You are reading Jedi stuff so I figure you are heading in an awesome direction ;). Just keep on. Put in the time and effort. You’ll get to where you want to be. So don’t dwell on who you were. Instead celebrate who you are and who you are becoming.

Things Change.
Always in motion the future is.” – Yoda
Nothing is set in stone. The end of your story hasn’t been written yet. Your journey is not at its end. You may find the Jedi Path is not for you. Cool. You can go a different direction at any time. You are not pegged in. You have the ability to make changes in your life. Feel free to make use of that ability at any time. Determine the direction you want to go and go boldly. But don’t feel that you aren’t able to alter your course. Course-Correction is a valuable practice. You are on the open seas, not railroad tracks.

Beware the Lies.
Trust isn’t worth anything when it’s built on lies.” – Seha Dorvald
Self-Honesty is key to the Jedi lifestyle. However some people have been telling themselves lies for a long time. How worthless they are. How nobody will miss them or cares about them. Lies told so often one begins to believe their own non-sense. You are not some perfect immortal butterfly all glorious and ever-lasting. You have weaknesses and flaws – wabi-sabi – that is what makes you beautiful and valuable. So beware the lies and instead be a bit more objective and honest with yourself. It is okay to see value in yourself. And when you see the flaws, the things you don’t like, just remember that you are in the process of growing and changing. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time to grow. Acceptance is peace.

Respect Your Feelings.
Search your feelings, every day. Keep careful watch. The worst monsters are not those from without.” – Ikrit
Your feelings are valuable indicators of the self. Letting you know your preferences and sensibilities. But they are not the entirety of the world. Don’t focus so much on you feelings that you ignore the facts of your situation. Don’t lose sight of your options, opportunities, and advantages by getting lost in over-confidence or defeatism. Your feelings are one of the many tools in your toolbox, not the only one.

Mind Your Company.
Friendship shows us who we really are.” – A Friend in Need, Clone Wars 4.14
Birds of a feather…. Surround yourself with people that are good for your environmental and overall personal well-being. Find people with similar interests. Join a dance class or a after-school gaming club. Don’t keep yourself tied to toxic people or relationships. Instead fill your world with people who see the best in you and encourage you to see the best in yourself. If we are going to be constantly bombarded with information, we can at least do our best to make that positive and useful information. Giving and spending our time with people who appreciate us (and that gift of time/company) is a wonderful thing to have in life.

Real Jedi, Bullies

It is an unfortunate reality that there are times when we are faced with improper behavior. There are people who are leeches. They seek to suck and drain those around them. The Jedi Community, like any other, is not immune to these type of people. If you find someone draining your time and energy, don’t play the victim. Remember to adjust your focus and concentrate on what is truly important. Make sure you are investing your time and energy wisely. If someone crosses a line, remember that Jedi are not doormats. Non-aggression, peace, acceptance, patience, these do not mean to suck it up and put up with bad behavior. Here are five things to remember when you find yourself harassed by a person.

(1) You are Not to Blame. It is important to not fall into the trap of thinking that you did this or that this is your fault. You are not responsible for the actions and choices of others. Someone treating you poorly is not a reflection of you – it is a reflection of that person’s character. Do not blame yourself, do not resign it to karma or fate. It is person acting improperly because they have chosen to do so. They are aware of their actions. They are responsible for them. And they are to be held accountable for them. Do not accept blame for their impropriety.

(2) Speak Up. If someone is doing something you do not like. Or you just want to be left alone. OR someone is within your personal space or comfort zone. Say so. Don’t suck it up. You can voice your preferences and opinions. Your voice is valuable. Your opinion is worthwhile. You can be polite. You can be diplomatic. You can ask a person to take a step back with a smile. You can tell a person to leave you alone. You can tell a person they are being rude and harassing. Say No. Voice your discomfort and displeasure. You are allowed. But don’t take this yourself. Speak Up to Friends and Family. Don’t suffer alone. Don’t shoulder a burden. Talk with your support structure around you.

(3) Record. If you are being harassed online – take screenshots. Time and Date it. Save it in a folder marked harassment. Date and Time the images so they are easy to find. Document the inappropriate behavior. Offline, this is a little more work. You have to be careful with phone photos and recordings because a really aggressive person might break it or escalate the situation. So be mindful. But you can write it down. Date – Time – Factual Incident Summary – People Nearby (witnesses). Keep a record of this improper behavior as it can really help soldify your stance. As well it can show just how much you are putting up with. Sometimes we are a little to nice and lenient and having a record can show just how much we have allowed bad behavior to happen to us.

(4) Remove. Take action by removing the person to the best of your ability out of your life. You have absolutely enough to deal with. You have your own life, responsibilities, struggles, and worries. Don’t sit there and add another by allowing a negative element to suck away your time, ebergy, and good graces. If online – Ban, Block, Ignore. Have an iphone? Block the number. Whatever you need. Make it happen and don’t waste another second on it. Most people (like myself) don’t like doing this, but again, you are not responsible for the actions of others. If they prove they don’t listen to you and your request to leave you alone – cut them out. This is tougher to do offline. School and workplace issues tend not to allow it. But you can do your best to keep your distance and not get involved in the same projects as the other person.

(5) Report. A way to ensure not being forced into a group project with the person is to tell those in-charge. Teacher, Manger (boss), whoever, you let them know of the issue you are having and your desire not to work with the person. You show your documentation and various times where you asked politely for space and the demeaning and harassing behavior of the individual in question. Perhaps a more permanent solution will be presented. If it is online, especially in the Jedi Community, you can report to administrators or website leaders. Again you present your record of behavior and problems and state your issue. Leadership should hold the person accountable.

The thing to remember is that a person’s behavior is very rarely directed at a singular person. It tends to be a radiating thing. It spreads to many people. And by speaking up you could be adding to an already compiling list of issues. Or you may be the first that encourages others to come forward with their issues. Either way. Don’t be a doormat. If you have a dealing with a negative person – take action. Value yourself enough not to simply accept continual abuse from a person.

Another Five Point Article

Debate, Argument (in the classical definition), Discussion. These are common elements in academia. These are common elements in the online Jedi Community. And certainly that extends to the Jedi Path in general. But sometimes Internet Culture will win out over Jedi Culture. Loss of Temper, Taking Opinion as Fact, Personal Attacks. So to help with a brief reminder, here are five elements Jedi keep in mind within various discussions.

1. Opinions Are Not Facts.
If you are confident that only you know what is right, you’re making yourself the center of reality. That’s just selfish.” – Anakin Solo
This does not invalidate your thoughts and opinions. But it is important that you understand your opinions and judgments are not factual in nature. They are observations which are limited by your own scope and understanding. They may be educated. They may be accurate. You may have a better than average ratio of being right. But this does not automatically mean your views and opinions are fact. Example, it is your opinion the moon is made of cheese. This does not make it fact simply because it is your opinion. And it doesn’t matter that you have never been to the moon to see otherwise.

Another popular thing people will try to do is cite an “opinion piece” (news article based on opinion) as fact. They cite Huffington Post, Daily Mail (uk), and label them fact-finding. This is not correct and something you should be aware of. There are many news outlets available these days, but due to the new structure of online reporting, fact-checking is a limited thing. Most report what they saw based upon another news source they read. So while you can research and come across “news” articles on a subject, you still have to separate opinion from actual facts.

Opinion is personal viewpoint. Fact is a viewpoint that has been tested multiple times by multiple people with tangible and repeatable results leading to a clear conclusion. When you find yourself exploring or debating a topic, be sure to secure yourself in facts, not merely opinion.

2. Society Does Not Dictate Facts.
Suspend your judgment, and every being has something to teach you.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
“Oppression is a fact of life.” – “This is just how the world works.” – Society can be a very broken thing. It can be a great thing which encourages growth and prosperity. It changes over time and is different in different places. What is considered a sign of encouragement in one society may be an insulting gesture in another. The opinions created within a society, much like individual opinion, does not equal fact.

We can get wrapped up in our world. We can get caught up in our heritage. Culture and history can be very important things to us, but they do not have to be constricting things. Don’t fall into the trap of judging things based upon society’s viewpoint. That is a just major opinion, it does not equal fact, it does not equal right. Many horrors have been done on a societal level. Slavery has existed in just about every civilization we know of. Genocide has been committed by many societies. Mass hysteria doesn’t make reality just because the majority have succumb to it.

Research, understand why something is a fact. Know the scientific method that helps to establish the things we come to know as facts. Continual experimentation to test theories and results. Peer review by other experts in the field (who also test theories and results). Don’t accept societal habits as matters of fact.

3. Be Objective About Subjectivity.
Each of us is still an individual. We will have worries and concerns that are unique to us. We cannot expect to always understand each other. The commitment (to each other) is what is important.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Not all things in the world are written in facts and unchanging stone. Beauty is a subject which is very subjective in nature. This does not mean that objectivity has no place. It simply means we must apply that knowledge. Understanding that there are things that change depending upon our own point of view and experiences in life. Understanding our bias and subjective ways of thinking can be approached in an objective manner.

This is the basic, “keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out.” Be open to the experiences of others. As much as we are similar as a species (birth, blood, bones) we are different individuals. We don’t always share the same views and don’t always react in the same manner. What may make one person angry may make another person sad. It is not our place to tell people how they feel or even how they should feel. Objectively look at the situation, at the events, and facts of the matter, but be sure within the objectivity that you allow for the subjective nature of human beings to take place as well.

The twist on this is that people tend to look at things as completely subjective and thus completely different. Which really it goes to the quote above. It is not really different, we just perceive it to be so in our minds. But if you break it down, you have people reacting to outside stimuli. Reacting differently, sure, but feeling, reacting, and seeking to do the best they can nonetheless. Don’t get so lost in the differences that you miss the connecting factors as well. You can understand someone’s viewpoint without sacrificing your own.

4. Not Everything is Meant to be Fixed.
There is a lot of unrest in life. The Force is created by life, so it has unrest in it. If you open yourself to the Force, how can you not open yourself to a certain amount of unrest?” – Mara Jade Skywalker
A lot of society these days is about correcting problems. Fixing what is not normal. Adjusting people’s behaviors and outward appearance to match with that the current standard is. In life there are many peaks and valleys. It is actually one of the more interesting and beautiful things about life – its unwillingness to conform to a specific path. The beauty and perfection of life is not found on a magazine cover or in a youtube video. It is random, it is always moving, and it is completely natural.

Wabi-Sabi is one of the more utilized and solidified forms of this. I prefer it as a philosophy, but mainly it is used in design (interior and architecture). The idea idea that perfection is found in natural imperfection. The tree is beautiful, not because it is straight, slim, and perfectly groomed, but because it grows and sways as necessary. The clay tea cup is better for the cracks in the surface than a smooth polished finish.

You can engage in conversation and debates without needing to change or fix someone’s view and/or opinion. You can accept diversity without needing to force conformity. You don’t have to agree with someone to understand their viewpoint and where they are coming from. There is such a thing as respectfully disagreeing. Personal attacks are not necessary to disprove points or offer a productive alternative. There is beauty in the natural exchange of ideas, thoughts, and experiences, without the need to try and cure them or fix them.

5. You Know Nothing Jon Snow.
The more we learn, the more we discover how much we do not know.” – Yoda
It is important we remember the extent of our knowledge. Science and our understanding of the universe is not set in stone. Many facts and things we thought to be core truth have been proven false over time. While we have developed things like the scientific method to help minimize our assumption of reality and facts, we are still in a process of discovery and growth.

When in a debate or faced with a challenge in life, it is important to remember we do not know everything. There is plenty in the this universe that is still a mystery. There are subjects and topics in this life that we just are not well educated on.

The beauty of nescience is that it presents us with an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t blindly hang onto ignorance out of ego-sake. Look upon your lack of knowledge and understanding as a chance to learn something new. Even if that is merely how someone else in the world views a topic. It is a chance to gain new perspectives and information.

And it is doesn’t hurt to keep in mind that we don’t know everything. Do to our enjoyment and intake of knowledge and experiences we can sometimes we can forget that.

Jedi and the Troll

To be clear this is not a lecture or lesson on dealing with trolls. At least not in a formal sense. By all means take away what you will from this. But this is merely a reflection on a recent encounter with a person who has embraced being a running joke of an entire online community. And as the picture above shows I decided to take a different tactic -burn the house down to fix the problem- just this once to see if it would make even a fraction of a difference. Cold hard truth. Vulgar insults. A mixture. The other truth – “I don’t care.” Which ended up being repeated ad nauseam with no avail or effect. It was a absolutely fascinating experience for me, but that wasn’t the sole purpose of this experiment (I was hoping it would encourage accountability on those that support him as a Jedi Knight – spoilers, No.). Here is my account of what not to do. Because really – one ban click solves your problem (not the problem, but it might be very egotistical to think you can solve that problem).

Quickly – for a more accurate account on what I normally do and support in dealing with trolls, head here: http://www.jediliving.com/365jedi/jedi-vs-internet-culture-aka-trolling/

That said and done I finally wanted to see if accountability meant anything to groups handing out titles like special clubhouse passes. In case you are curious the answer is no. It is the usual turn and blind eye, allow the behavior, and thus by failing to confront it you encourage it. A recurring theme in certain online and offline Jedi Communities which annoys me because it perpetuates the behavior. And this is why I decided to go off books for a change. Spider in the house?
So I went fire with fire. “You don’t want to challenge me.” he said. “Fine. I challenge you. You are hereby challenged.” I respond. “Accepted” he answers. Oh noes. This means he is going to beat me up at the next Jedi Gathering. Or is it? My disdain for the individual was never a secret. The guy is a troll. He likes to run his mouth and this isn’t the first time he has made threats of violence should we meet in-person. A honest concern of mine (as I am not a fan of violence and we were filming a documentary at the time – so bad impression right?) my first time meeting him. In which he smiled and laughed and hugged me. All happy that we finally get to meet face to face. Yes, but about all those things you said? Called him on that and the next year we meet. Guesses? Again, as if we are best of friends. So am I worried about this new threat? No and sure because his previous threats have been empty, but also because a bully’s only power is fear. They use it for control. They use it as a way to manipulate people. Without it they have to honor their threats and there are problems with that (which feel free to point these out if someone is bullying you) – witnesses, legal repercussions, policy (school, workplace, organizational policies) repercussions, people not sitting by for their BS, that fact that fighting is rarely one sided and even one awkward punch can cause serious harm (the human body is amazingly weak and strong all at the same time). There are risks and many will only go forward with them if they feel very, very confident they can get away with them. This person may be delusional, but they know fighting me is not something without risk. So I have no fear of this person or their threats. And carry full expectation of laughing and trying to hug me.

But of course that wasn’t the beginning or end of the encounter. It was just another way for him to validate himself. Because I stated “I don’t care.” Several times in an effort to clearly highlight that his reasoning, ideas, opinions, advice, thoughts, all of it was wasted energy. You can only teach those that seek to learn. A reality of life. And so I conveyed my full unwillingness to even listen. Did that stop the constant messages of delusional superiority and belief that people are jealous of him? Of course not. So it continued. Don’t care after don’t care, it just kept coming. And so did his messages. So the truth then?

I threw it out there, done with the BS of it all. “You are a joke. Every Jedi holds this view of you. Not one Jedi takes you or what you say seriously. Even your supporters hold to, “he is a joke and that is why I like him.’ No one respects you. And this is all by your own actions, your own design.” His response, “I don’t give a f*ck what people think about me.” My response? “Yes exactly. I don’t either. But you are still here. Justifying yourself to me. Trying to defend and explain and convince yourself of these things.” The end? Of course not. I am the villain of this story and the hero cannot exit without defeating the villain.

It went on and in circles for some time. Finally I was left alone. I had given enough material for the troll to use. I am sure it will be spread around. “Look it at what Opie said to me! He was mean to me! And he wasn’t acting like a Jedi.” All which is true of course. I definitely took the time to throw my caring out the window and made the conscious decision to see if pure uncut as big as possible F-U would provide any level of change or realization. And certainly, not really what I would call the Jedi Approach. And no – it did not provide any level of recognition, change, reason, or even stop the constant messages. Again, eventually I was left alone, I suspect to other reasons (such as having to do other stuff). It was interesting, to be sure. But yeah – I can double down on my “Don’t burn down the house to kill the spider” philosophy. It is indeed pointless. And I stand by my original conclusions in the Post linked above. How do you deal with trolls? Be a Jedi. Make Use of Ignore and Block Options. Recorded the Problem and Bring it to the attention of those who can do something (even if just remove the person or just a shake a finger – at least show you won’t just sit there and take their garbage). Better that than the alternative which just hurts you.
 Of course I enjoyed the experience, but I am glad to have it done with. It was draining, not worth the energy or time used. A certainly does nothing for me as a Jedi. Definitely a failure (regardless of reasoning), but I am willing to own up to that. Acknowledge my idiocy, learn from it, and move forward a bit wiser for the fall. Be a Jedi. Use that block button. And focus on the things that matter. Which is definitely not trolls playing Jedi and my time is wasted as a Jedi playing a troll.