I loved “Star Wars” when I was a kid. I still do, but it’s become more socially acceptable to say so in this day and age without a certain stigma attached.

As a kid, I was made fun of for it. Maybe I took it to higher levels than some fans of genres did – reading the books and having the action figures – but that’s how I liked to spend my youth. If there’s a bright center to the universe, I was reading “Star Wars” novels in the corner farthest from it.

Yesterday having been “Star Wars” Day (May the 4th – get it?) brought up some of these memories, as social media puts you in touch with people from your past that you have no intention of having as part of your future. Some of those same adolescent tormentors who, admittedly, have become better people with age, were posting their own love for the films on Facebook, etc., yesterday.

I’m happy for them. I’m glad they can express their interest for something they really enjoy without feeling the way I did as a kid. But I find their lack of contempt disturbing.

I’m not out to publicly shame anyone. I’d just as soon kiss a Wookie. But sometimes instances like those are grim reminders of growing up often being bullied and having to keep some of my interests and hobbies to myself as a result.

My daughter doesn’t have that issue. Since 2017 is a somewhat more accepting and different time, enjoying things like certain books or films is even encouraged. It’s a far cry from a long time ago.

That’s not to say harassers don’t exist anymore. In fact, they’re more frequent than ever. All it takes is a few clicks of a mouse or taps of a screen to see hate spew online, in the comments sections of stories or through social media. Bullies exist in every level of our lives, from the schoolyard to the Oval Office.

Hate is commonplace. It’s easy. All you have to do is have an opinion or be yourself and somewhere, at sometime, someone will hate you for it – whether its for your religion or the color of your skin.

The possibility of successfully navigating your life without being ridiculed or made fun of is approximately 3,720 to one. But never tell my daughter the odds.

While she is able to celebrate the things she loves without being sneered at, she does have her own bully whose abuse doesn’t have anything to do with TV or movies. The comments made to her from this child are more generalized, targeted and hateful.

But the disparaging remarks haven’t gotten the kid down. Instead of retaliating, tattling or sulking, she suggested a new strategy, and asked if she could take an extra bag of cookies in her lunch to give the child in order to be “nice.”

Now, don’t call me a mindless philosopher, but on some level, that makes all the schoolyard shoves I received and names I was called sting a bit harder.

On the other hand, it makes me forgive and forget them a little easier, being mindful of the future but not at the expense of the moment.

You’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view, and since you never really know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, compassion isn’t always the first step we take.

But, please, don’t give into fear, anger, aggression or hate.

It’s a trap.

W. Derek Russell is a columnist and the Daily Journal’s arts and entertainment reporter. Contact him @wderekrussell on Twitter or email him at derek.russell@journalinc.com.

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