For those who enjoy the wildly popular Netflix series Stranger Things, the long anticipated sequels have arrived.
As before, the programs don’t disappoint, taking us on a roller coaster ride of impending doom and terror, interspersed with humor, vulnerability and humanity.
Once again, the cast of characters mimics our friends, families, and ourselves. They include Hopper, the unconventional police chief, Joyce the fearless mother and Hopper’s love interest, and Eleven, the mysterious girl with powers similar to a Jedi warrior, along with a cast of endearing youth. A series of dark villains includes the Demogorgons, the Mind Flayer, the Soviets, and Billy.
Spoiler alert: the dramatic season’s conclusion focuses on one of the antagonists that audiences loved to hate throughout the series.
Billy, portrayed as the epitome of narcissism and cruelty, is carried back in time through the psychic powers of Eleven, the young heroine. In a vision, Billy returns to when he was a small boy playing on the beach, with his mother lovingly looking on. Free for a moment of the physical and emotional torture of his abusive father, he runs into the arms of his beautiful mother and remembers the pure love she had for him before she abandoned him. Recalling the feeling of being loved unconditionally, his true self emerges.
The angry walls that Billy put up for so many years crash down as the healing light of love illumines his soul. He then realizes that he must save our heroine rather than aid in her destruction. Sacrificing his own life for what he now recognizes as truth and light, Billy offers himself up to the evil Demogorgon and becomes a modern day martyr. Seizing the opportunity of the monster’s distraction, the youth then kills the demon and rescues the world.
If it seems like this kind of drama only happens on television, you might want to take another look at the symbolism in our lives.
Every day, we see these forces of light and darkness everywhere. The forces of darkness—violence, hatred, materialism, racism, prejudice, corruption and disunity—are active in the world and should be systematically eliminated. But first, as in Billy’s symbolic example, we have to eradicate these dark forces from our own personal lives—from within ourselves.
The stronger forces of light—love, unity, compassion, faith, as well as love for God—all emerge from our personal characters when we strive to embody the virtues spoken of in all the Holy Books. Once we begin to exemplify those inner virtues in our outer character, the Baha’i teachings say, we can become lamps of light to the world:
O Son of Being! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me. For I have created thee rich and have bountifully shed My favor upon thee. Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 6.
Today the world of humanity is walking in darkness because it is out of touch with the world of God. That is why we do not see the signs of God in the hearts of men. The power of the Holy Spirit has no influence. When a divine spiritual illumination becomes manifest in the world of humanity, when divine instruction and guidance appear, then enlightenment follows, a new spirit is realized within, a new power descends, and a new life is given. It is like the birth from the animal kingdom into the kingdom of man .… I will pray, and you must pray, likewise, that such heavenly bounty may be realized; that strife and enmity may be banished, warfare and bloodshed taken away; that hearts may attain ideal communication and that all people may drink from the same fountain. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 305.
In the last episode of Stranger Things 3, with the demon defeated and Hopper missing, we still have hope. Surely when the series returns, the ebb and flow of darkness and light will again spatter their days, just as it does in our own lives, and throughout the entire history of humanity. As Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
As in the show, we ride the roller coaster of our lives going from one adversity to the next, then back to welcome moments of peace and clarity. During all these times, what are the choices we will make? Will we be lured by the darkness of greed, hate, and egotism, or will we turn our faces to the greatest power of all—the light of love?
So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. – Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14.
In the end, if we have the courage to stand up to the dark demons of injustice, intolerance and hate in the world and in our own lives, and turn our faces to the light of the love of God, we will embody those fearless warriors of “Stranger Things,” and the inner nobility of our own souls.