Matt Knutson: Pursuit of the light is what matters most

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, December 14, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“We need to have the ‘Star Wars’ team see that photo of Gracelyn,” I quickly texted my wife in response to a text she sent me. Our little girl was standing next to life-size Yoda with a big grin on her face. I couldn’t be prouder. My immediate hope was for this to reach some sort of casting agent and that our eldest would make her film debut in the next “Star Wars” movie, but that’s probably too lofty of a goal. Later that evening Sera revealed to me that Gracelyn wasn’t even that interested in Yoda, but being a good wife, convinced our daughter to smile for the photo in order to make my afternoon. Alas, my little Jedi might need more training.

With the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” upon us, I began thinking about the Force and the powers of good versus evil in our world today. When you hear the sound of a lightsaber being activated and immediately see the red blade, you know the dark side is ready for an epic fight. These movies have done such a brilliant job of painting one side as heroes and the other as villains that we often forget there can be any middle ground. Even the transition of the young Jedi Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader leaves little compromise between someone on the light side versus the dark side. It is inevitable that he will be on one side or the other, but it would just take time for that plot to resolve itself.

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As much as I love these stories and internally enjoy imagining the Force at play in our world today, it has become clearer than ever that we actually live in a world where we all struggle between being a Jedi and Sith. We’re imperfect, and that’s OK. 2017 is shaping up to be a year of disappointment. No matter what your political view, you’re certainly not happy. Some previously successfully entertainers, politicians and leaders are falling from their pedestals due to sexual harassment allegations. We even find strife within our local communities. While 2017 certainly has many negatives, there is an underlying positive that we are finally beginning to root out problems that have clearly existed longer than we previously cared to admit. Almost all of the struggles that immediately come to mind when I think of current events are not new, but rather complex issues that built up over a considerable amount of time. Perhaps 2018 will be a year where healing can begin.

I think one important part of healing can be forgiveness. To be clear, I’m not advocating for the mass forgiveness of everyone and everything who did something heinous in the last year. One can and should still be held accountable for their actions. Letting go of grudges and bitterness is an entirely different act. It’s something that takes time and pursuit. The end of the year and the holiday season could not be a more perfect time to recognize what has been burdening you and to seek out resolution. Forgiveness can be transformational, allowing us to put down our lightsabers and imagine a future being created together instead of in isolation.

Yes, there’s good and bad in all of us. Every person, organization, group can strive to act fairly and justly yet still fall short. It’s so easy to see it in others that we forget that we, too, possess it. As Obi-Wan said, “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.” Acknowledging the truth in that statement might be the first step towards forgiveness and healing.

Though my daughters are still too young to appreciate (or even watch) “Star Wars,” I hope they’ll come to appreciate the excitement it brings to me. Perhaps they’ll learn faster than I did that we’re all a mix of the light and the dark, but it’s the pursuit of the light that matters the most.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.