Who would you like to rescue you from a bad situation?
It depends on who is talking, and what is in their heart. Do their actions really add up to their words? The actions of the heroes of Star Wars were better than their beliefs. (Heroes includes heroines.)
Right now, I think I’d take Flanagan’s Halt, Apprentice Will, or any of his good characters over Luke or those who followed him. They have a clearer idea what they’re fighting for and they don’t lean on sex appeal, as the original Star Wars does with Leia. (But that’s another post. There’s good and bad sex appeal; it’s a wonderful part of life.) I can’t say if the new Star Wars does; I haven’t seen it yet. I mean to remedy that.
Here’s some thoughts further along the same vein, from an email to a friend who had questions about story characters and whether suffering grows empathy or hardness in them.
Be sure to give me your thoughts, too.
How we respond to suffering really depends on our hearts, our openness to God, and our openness to people. Often we all go through stages of learning through suffering, along the way to gaining empathy. We might have a pity party one day, feel angry and bitter the next, want to fix someone’s life the next . . .
Sometimes we choose wrong, and sometimes we choose right. I’ve think you’ve done a good job portraying this in your books, Terri. (The Kayndo Series, by Terri Luckey.) Dayvee is the one I specifically remember going through these things. And people can also gain empathy (feeling with another person) and decide not to be compassionate. The moral war is big right here. Our innate selfishness warring with another’s need. Lots of food for thought and for stories.
As Tim mentions, (another crit group friend) that’s one thing I dislike about some books now, they try to justify some of the villain’s actions or the villain himself, and often do not present truth. At any given moment we are either doing what is right or doing what is wrong. And some writers are trying to blur that distinction, to say there is excuse for wrongdoing, that it is not actually wrong.
I’m not saying there’s not a place for sympathy, like when a thief steals because he’s hungry, or someone turns bitter after someone kills their family or any other horrible, hard-to-get-through thing. I’d feel very much for them (and also for their bitterness and anger because it kills the heart) but it doesn’t let any of us off the hook. Humanizing a villain doesn’t mean we water down truth. The evil they did is still wrong and it still must be paid for.
Mercy does triumph over justice (if we accept it), but for that to happen, the wrong involved has to be acknowledged. If there isn’t wrong, there isn’t mercy or justice; those words mean nothing. We’re just trying to make someone feel better after something that hurts. (And there’s no real grounds for even that, since it’s not wrong, it’s not right, it’s just pain. Relativism even begins to take the meaning from the word “pain.”) Relativism kills truth, meaning, and purpose in your story. Don’t let it into your books! Not that I think you will. LOL
Who would you choose? Would you pick someone entirely different? Why? What do they mean to you? Please leave me your thoughts in the comments. Thanks.
Be sure and check out the below if you want more info to fuel your investigation. The blog post on this site is excellent about the Jedi, relativism, and story. It’s so good I printed and saved it. Moral Absolutes are Essential to Good Storytelling.