From a galaxy far, far away, a winner in 'Star Wars' contest

Contact: Mark Schwerin

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Katelyn Clark had the force behind her and won the "Star Wars" contest sponsored by the Western Michigan University Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

The center invited people to write about what ethical lessons they have learned from the "Star Wars" action films.

The winning entry

"I think that one of the most important lessons on ethics that can be found in the Star Wars movies is that anger doesn't always lead to the dark side," Clark wrote. "It depends on what you do with the anger. Anakin had chosen to get revenge on those who had killed those he loved, which led him to the dark side. Luke had chosen to help others after the people he loved had been killed."

Dr. Sandra L. Borden, WMU professor of communication and center co-director, said Clark's entry was chosen because it taps into a less obvious moral lesson from the movies while also echoing the wisdom of Aristotle, who said feelings are integral to being good as long as we express them how and when we should. To quote the ancient Greek philosopher himself: "Anybody can get angry—that is easy… but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way—that is not for everyone; nor is it easy."

The contest, titled "The Most Important Thing I Learned about Ethics from 'Star Wars'," coincided with the release of the opening of the latest "Star Wars" film, "The Force Awakens," Friday, Dec. 18. The contest asked area residents far and wide to write about their favorite ethical take-away from the famous film and book series.

Answers were posted on the center's Facebook page at As the winner, Clark is the new owner of a 1996 Kenner Tusken Raider action figure in the original box.

"Given that 'wars' is part of the franchise title, it is not surprising that several entries reflected on ethical issues involving violence and conflict," Borden, says. "However, the entries also revealed the abiding inspiration that the Star Wars movies have provided to individuals as they have sought their own moral paths in life."

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