The UrSkeks

In the 1982 fantasy film, The Dark Crystal, there are two races of species dominantly portrayed. There are the Skeksis; a hybrid reptile, vulture, and dragon, who are cruel and selfish. The aging and ailing breed anxiously survive by draining and consuming the life force of other living beings. The urRu, or Mystics, are the same size and age as the Skeksis, but look and live quite differently than Skeksis do. They resemble an amalgam of dog and dinosaur, and they are gentle, generous, and thoughtful. They harm no one and nothing, concerned more with the daily tasks of living than the worry of dying. The Mystics value peace, while the Skeksis crave power.

The viewer finds out during the film that the stark contrast between the two is because they are actually each half of a single creature, the urSkeks. While attempting to reject and deny their own darkness, the urSkeks accidentally split themselves into two parts. The part that becomes the Skeksis possesses all of the darkness; the Mystics, the light. The Mystics take the opportunity to part from the Skeksis, leaving them to their own fighting and destruction. However, since they are truly all one, whatever befalls a Skeksis is also experienced by a Mystic; the contrary also being true. The death of a Mystic is simultaneous with the death of a Skeksis; the same with injuries, etc. As both species face extinction, the Mystics realize that they must reunite before their union is forgotten entirely and there is nothing left of either of them. Together, they are eternal. Divided they will disappear.

Okay, hippy girl, where on earth is this going?! Fear not, I’m getting there!

It recently struck me how like this story we are as a human race. We arbitrarily divide ourselves into good and evil, the “us” and the “them” and the “those people”. After centuries of evolution, we still deeply struggle to recognize our oneness. We believe strongly that we need to categorize, judge, and punish. We contaminate our discoveries of psychology, prophets, and proverbs, using them as weapons, deepening our own wound and infecting our spirit. We hide from our own darkness, fearing and ignoring its existence, and lose the memory of wholeness and unity. Our countries, politics, religions, and technologies all artillery aimed and ready to fire. And all the while, it is ourselves that we are hurting. For what happens to one, happens to all.

During one moment in the movie, a Skeksis injures his hand and screams out in pain and anger. In the same scene, his counterpart Mystic’s hand begins to bleed. The Mystic acknowledges the injury quietly and steadily moving forward without attachment or emotion. I understand that these are fictional characters, cousins to the Muppets really, and humans cannot be expected to live without any attachment or emotion, nor would I want us to. If we lived that way, we would learn nothing. Nothing would be imagined, accomplished, or created. But somewhere between the screams of righteousness and grief of defeat there must be common ground. We must be able to find some space, some fertile ground to plant seeds of hope and healing.

Not one prophet or great and noble leader would bear witness to injury and do nothing. Nor would they cast proverbial stones so swiftly that they never considered the walls of their own crystal homes. Jill Jackson beautifully wrote the lyrics “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Each of us is responsible for our words, our actions, and our reactions. These are the external exhibits of our own internal peace or disquiet. They are the seeds that we plant in our lifetime and should be handled and distributed with care. If we all keep our fists tightly clenched in anger and defiance, nothing will grow. There is not one of us who is not part Skeksis. Nor is there one who does not have within him or her at least a glimmer of Mystic. When we recognize and accept both sides residing within ourselves and commit to granting every individual the same consideration, we can begin our work. We can begin our healing. We can begin our path to unity. But it cannot begin with the “them” it has to begin with the “me”.

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