Love, Fear, Aristotle, and Yoda
In life, is it best to be ruled by fear or love? Because of the negativity associated with fear, one would typically answer, love. As so eloquently stated by Rip Torn in Defending Your Life “Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything. “ (Defending Your Life - Big Brain) However, love can be just as overpowering. As seen in Troy, prince Paris is consumed by his love for Helen, the queen of Sparta, and steals her away. This causes Menelaus, King of Sparta, to seek revenge and wage war on Troy, which results in the death of thousands (Synopsis for Troy). Overwhelming fear or love clouds judgment and leads to poor decisions.
Life usually isn’t as simple as defining a person or their actions into a category of only love or only fear. As seen in Donnie Darko, Donnie is troubled by this and tries to explain to his teacher that life isn’t as simple as love and fear. The teacher on the other hand, explains that love and fear are the two most basic of human emotions, and therefore any situation can be broken down in this manner (Fear vs. Love). It would seem that Donnie has a view similar of the Aristotelian notion of the golden mean. The golden mean is a way of life in which one finds, and attempts to live within, the mean between deficit and abundance (Murdarasi)The problem in applying the golden mean to real-life situations, comes from the question, where does the mean lie? It is closer to deficit or abundance? In this case, fear represents deficit in that fear is often associated with negativity, and love represents abundance.
Looking at more dynamic characters, such as Harry Potter and his rival, Voldemort we see that they both build their personal identity within the bounds the golden mean. These are important characters to compare because they have similar backgrounds. Both are half bloods who were orphaned at a young age and who grew up in unloving homes. However, their personal ideals are very different. Harry has ideals closer to the side of love. Time after time, Harry loves his friends and protects his friends. While he is terrified of Volemort, he doesn’t let that fear overpower him in his mission. Voldemort’s ideals lie closer to the fear border. He loved his newfound home at Hogwarts, but feared leaving that home but death beyond anything, which hardened his heart. He has love, but it is false, loving only things that protect him from death and not embracing anyone. Voledmort is similar to the Anakin Skywalker character in Star Wars. In Episode III he has a loving wife, but falls down the path of the dark side when he lets his fear take over. As Yoda predicted, fear led to anger, anger led to hate, and hate led to suffering (Lucas).
In conclusion, to succeed, one must find their identity on the golden mean closer to that of the loving side, but not to the point of complete infatuation. Looking at the philosophical views of film, it is important to find your own personal identity based on the golden mean. However, life isn’t static. It’s always possible to redefine the boundaries to which your golden mean is based, and to steer your identity to what you believe the mean is.
Defending Your Life - Big Brain. Feb 2008. May 2012 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BF897aNyxSs >.
Fear vs. Love. Sep 2006. 5 May 2012 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q38N9QvsdzU >.
Murdarasi, Karen. Aristotle's Golden Mean. June 2008. 6 May 2012 <http://karenmurdarasi.suite101.com/aristotles-golden-mean-a56759 >.
Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Dir. George Lucas. 2005.
Synopsis for Troy. Feb 2012. 5 May 2012 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332452/synopsis>.