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Everything you like is Team Jedi, and everything else is Sith. That's not OK.

We're making the same mistakes they made a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

There once was an orphan who lived in the desert.

Raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle, the only opportunity he could see to free himself from a life of poverty was to join the military. But then tragedy struck: Government soldiers destroyed his family, home, and livelihood — all because of some questionable intelligence.

A devout old veteran soon befriended the boy, filling his head with fantasies of glory, strength, and war. At the man's behest, the boy joined a radical guerrilla force and within days had bombed the most expensive piece of government property ever created, murdering hundreds of people in the process.


Obviously I'm referring to Luke Skywalker. Who else?

To be clear: I don't actually think that Luke Skywalker is a terrorist. I mean, we're talking about a fictional character here.


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

But framing the story that way wasn't difficult to do. After all, that's the entire point of fiction: to understand the world (or galaxy as the case may be) through someone else's eyes. And nowhere is this experience more powerful than in those timeless, grandiose mythologies like "Star Wars."

That's why Luke Skywalker is the Democrat raging against police states and corruption.

And he's the Tea Partier trying to return the nation to the freedom and religious values of yore.

He's the Libertarian crusading against government oversight, wishing for a world where even Wookies thrive on meritocracy.

Or, ya know, a radical religious terrorist. Your space-mileage may vary.


An entire Jedi fan-family! Photo by GabboT/Flickr.

It's so easy for us to put ourselves into the hero's shoes, and that's exactly why these stories resonate with so many people.

But at the same time, it's easy for all of us to make "the other guy" seem like the villain, regardless of their actual beliefs. We all want to be the one who fires that proton torpedo and destroys the Death Star, defeating The Enemy and making the galaxy safe for The Good Thing We Believe In.

If we are all Luke Skywalker, orphaned son-turned-aspiring Jedi knight, then anyone who disagrees is a mustache-twirling, Force-lightning-crackling Sith lord, no questions asked.

Except that's ... not how the world works, is it?

Nothing is purely good or evil. Reality is messy, ugly, and hard. We get so bogged down in the Jedi stuff ('cause let's face it, that stuff's awesome), that we don't think about the Stormtroopers, for example. Are they stand-ins for the Nazis who were just following orders? Or are they the same as American soldiers, fighting for their righteous beliefs in a free market economy that allows the Hutts and other hard-working entrepreneurs to thrive? Maybe they actually are trying to protect the people from the random, scrappy actions of those religious extremists in the Rebel Alliance.

Or maybe all those assumptions can co-exist. Maybe our empathy shouldn't stop with the protagonist.


Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Empathy is one of the major themes of "Star Wars." That's why we still love it, still talk about it, and still need it.

Let me tell you about another young orphan boy from the desert, one who was also born into economic struggle. This boy was also seduced by religion, and committed himself to a life of righteousness rather than acknowledging his own human flaws.

He, too, loses everyone he loves. As a quadriplegic man, he overcomes adversity by committing himself to the opposite extreme, rising through the ranks of the military to become a renowned leader and warrior.

And yet he struggles to connect with people — specifically, with the family that he never knew he had. Every attempt he makes just perpetuates that same endless cycle of poverty and abuse that he grew up with. Until one day, he learns to find the balance between the polarized extremes of his light and the dark sides.

But everything changes when, with his last mortal breath, Anakin Skywalker absolves his estranged son and frees him from that same unending cycle.


Image by doctorwonder/Flickr.

That's the most important lesson we can learn from "Star Wars": real life doesn't have a Dark Side and a Light Side.

I'm not saying that we should all be rushing to throw any emperors down Death Star shafts. But what happens at the end of "Return of the Jedi" is powerful because it breaks the cycle, freeing the galaxy from the overly-simplistic binary of the Light Side and the Dark Side. Vader embraces both sides of the Force — seeking goodness while accepting his flaws and finding a better way through the center.

That's what it means when they talk about bringing balance to the Force. It's not about the eternal struggle of good versus evil — it's about going beyond those oversimplified extremes and embracing empathy as well as ambiguity.


Note: By "ambiguity" I don't mean "amoral mercenary feared throughout the galaxy." Photo by Josh Hallett/Flickr.

So why do we keep telling the same stories of good versus evil over and over and over again? Because we still need them.

There are Republicans, and there are Democrats; and whichever side you're on are the righteous Jedi knights, with the opposition being unequivocally Sith.

There's patriotism, and there's terrorism; and there's no room for nuance when oil freedom is on the line.

You're a capitalist or a communist; your god is right or you're an evil heathen; you're a lazy welfare moocher or a self-made success who earned everything you have.

It was the Empire against the Rebel Alliance; now it's the First Order against the Resistance. What did Darth Vader die for if we're still stuck in that endless cycle of polar opposition?


Photo by Lucius Kwok/Flickr.

As long as there's an "us" and "them," we'll always keep on fighting.

As sad I would be to not have another "Star Wars" film — and as fun as it is to come up with absolutely ridiculous readings of my favorite stories — I'd much rather live in a world that goes beyond that same eternal struggle and where well-meaning people can exist in the grays between the Dark and the Light.

May the Force be with you, in any shade that understands the human struggle.

Photo by Josh Hallett/Flickr.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Marcos Alberti's "3 Glasses" project began with a joke and a few drinks with his friends.

The photo project originally depicted Alberti's friends drinking, first immediately after work and then after one, two, and three glasses of wine.

But after Imgur user minabear circulated the story, "3 Glasses" became more than just a joke. In fact, it went viral, garnering more than 1 million views and nearly 1,800 comments in its first week. So Alberti started taking more pictures and not just of his friends.



"The first picture was taken right away when our guests (had) just arrived at the studio in order to capture the stress and the fatigue after a full day after working all day long and from also facing rush hour traffic to get here," Alberti explained on his website. "Only then fun time and my project could begin. At the end of every glass of wine, a snapshot, nothing fancy, a face and a wall, 3 times."

Why was the series so popular? Anyone who has ever had a long day at work and needed to "wine" down will quickly see why.

Take a look:

Photos of person after drinking glasses of win

All photos by Marcos Alberti, used with permission.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Photos of person after drinking glasses of win

assets.rebelmouse.io

This article originally appeared on 11.19.16

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Family

Two girl dads debate on which public bathroom they should take their daughters into

These dads disagreed on whether the women's of men's bathroom was best. So they asked TikTok to weigh in.

@djdrewski/TikTok

It’s a dilemma every girl dad must eventually face—choosing whether to take their daughters into the women’s bathroom, or the men’s. Sure, some places (more and more these days) have all-gender or family bathrooms with changing stations, but generally speaking those are far and few between.

Recently, DJ Drewski found himself and his brother—a fellow girl dad—facing this common predicament, and each father had a different opinion on which bathroom was the correct choice. So, Drewski thought he might settle the debate on TikTok.

“So two girl dads in Disney, we're in Disney World right now,” Drewski begins. “As a girl dad, I bring my daughter into the men's room, of course, into a stall in that bathroom. My brother brings his daughter into the female restroom. The women's restroom. We don't know which is the right way to do it or how women feel.”

@djdrewski As a “Girl Dad” which restroom are you supoose to use with your toddler DAUGHTER in public places??? #question #girldad #toddlersoftiktok #disney ♬ original sound - DJ Drewski

Where Drewski “doesn’t feel comfortable’ going into the women’s restroom, his brother argued that the women’s room is cleaner, and therefore better suited for his daughter. The second opinion matched the rationale of a girl dad Upworthy covered back in 2021, who lamented that “Men's bathrooms are DISGUSTING. They smell like pee and nothing is set up for a woman or a person with a child.”

Other moms seemed to share a preference for dad’s entering the women restroom, so long as they announce they’re coming in.

“Women’s rest room just yell girl dad coming in,” one person commented

Another said, “Ladies will accept you, just announce yourself. If any ladies give you trouble, they obviously don't have kids. Ignore them.”

However, folks weren’t vehemently opposed to taking daughter’s into the men’s room.

“As a Girl Dad... men's room straight to a stall... never have I ever had any issues .. lol” one viewer quipped.

Another shared, “My dad used to bring me to the guys bathroom and have me close my eyes until we got into the stall! Never was a problem to me or my mom ! Whatever you prefer I think.”

And of course, another viewer added that it sure would be nice to “normalize” changing tables in men’s rooms as well.

It’s clear that each of these dads are trying to do what’s best for their daughters, and are willing to have open conversations about how to best go about it. That’s perhaps the biggest and best takeaway of all here, regardless of which bathroom they choose. Just wash those hands!

Pop Culture

Man's seemingly obvious 'dishwasher hack' is blowing everyone's minds

One man’s observation about his dishwasher may change the way you do dishes forever.

Mike McLoughlan realized something very important about his dishwasher.

No one likes doing the dishes, but the tedious chore is made much easier when using a dishwasher. However, an alarming amount of people have reported that their dishwashers can actually make the job harder because they don't properly fit their dishes.

And that's where Twitter user Mike McLoughlin (@zuroph) comes in.

Back in January, McLoughlin made an observation about his dishwasher that would change the way he does dishes forever. For a decade, the Irishman thought that the bottom rack of his washer simply was too small for his large dinner plates. Then he made an amazing discovery:


The tweet went totally viral, and was shared over 14,000 times. He even tweeted a picture to show just how much he could fit in the dishwasher now that he knows the racks are adjustable:

The "hack" (is it still called a hack if the appliance is doing what it is supposed to be doing?) blew people's minds:

But other people were basically like, "Seriously, dude?"

While a group of others tried to one-up McLoughlin with stories of their own:


Okay, go on and check your own dishwasher. You know you want to.


This article first appeared on 8.16.18.

A husband admitted he tended to "trust" his mom's parenting advice more than his wife's.

A dad who goes by @sergey.be.be on TikTok reached out to viewers in hopes of better navigating a perpetual argument with his wife.

In the clip, he shared that his wife is “frequently offended” that he seeks advice from his mother on how to raise their daughter. But since his mom has had “experience raising three children” compared to his wife’s first time at motherhood, he “tends to trust” mom’s advice more.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to frequent quarrels, and has persisted after the baby was born.


The dad went on to explain that, unlike his mother, his wife “insists she knows everything, suggesting we can always look things up on Google if needed.”

He then offered this example: “when I inquired about swaddling for our newborn, my mother recommended swaddling with straightened legs because if you don't swaddle your baby, his legs will be crooked, while my wife disagreed, saying it was a thing of the past."

@sergey.be.be My wife is frequently offended when I seek advice from my mother regarding raising our daughter. Our differing opinions have led to frequent quarrels. How can I navigate this situation? #newborn #momanddaughter #baby #babylove ♬ Surrender - Natalie Taylor

Well, not taking sides here, but a quick Google search does in fact list several resources which state that straight-leg swaddling is, in fact, not recommended, and considered potentially harmful. So it’s understandable that this man’s wife might be frustrated that her husband actively chooses his mother’s objectively inaccurate opinion over her own research.

Viewers unanimously agreed with this sentiment, though the responses ranged somewhere between gentle and brutally blunt.

“I guess he is TRYING to get divorced,” one person wrote.

Another quipped, “You should marry your mom 💕 hope this helps!”

Others tried to help illuminate the wife’s point of view, and point out why this husband’s action might be so upsetting.

“Your wife probably did HOURs, DAYS MONTHS of researching the current safe ways of doing things,” one person argued. “If you aren't’ going to trust her, at least ask to read what she’s reading so you can get insight. Then, if after reading you still have doubts, talk to your wife. Do not bring up your mom’s opinion.”

Another reasoned, “that’s like her asking her dad how you should be a father.”

Professionals also weighed in. A NICU nurse wrote, “things have changed in the last 3 years alone. Your mother doesn’t know. This is the woman you chose, learn and grow with her.”

And finally, I think this warning from a couples therapist really sums it all up: “prioritize your new family over your old family.”

If this man was indeed seeking advice (and not justification for his actions) then he certainly got what he asked for. Either way, the conversation can hopefully help put things into perspective for others.

Lunch looks a lot different outside of the U.S.

For those of us who grew up in the United States eating lunch in a cafeteria, the idea of looking at a bunch of trays of school food may be less than compelling. But what's surprisingly interesting, however, is what children from the rest of the world are eating instead. Check out these common lunch dishes from around the globe and let us know they seem accurate.

The photos were part of a project entitled "School Lunches Around the World" by Sweetgreen In Schools, a program "that educates kids about healthy eating, fitness, and sustainability through fun, hands-on activities."

This article originally appeared on 10.30.17