Another Star Wars article? I know, I know. Especially with how contentious The Last Jedi has been, Star Wars articles have been as invasively common as womp rats are in Mos Espa. But guess what? There’s a reason for that. More than anything, though, the franchise is so deeply ingrained in our culture that, in the words of the Lord of the Sith himself, “There is no escape.”
Now that we’ve dispensed with the pleasantries, let’s get right to it: five lessons I learned from Star Wars. That’s two more than Luke promised Rey, so reach out, or just move your eyes farther down the page.
I can’t say I’m unique in that The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite entry in George Lucas’s magnum opus, but it’s a damn good movie, and it’s at its absolute best when Luke is on Dagobah (not) trying Yoda’s signature rootleaf stew.
Of the many things Luke learns from everyone’s favorite pint-sized Jedi Master, being afraid and accepting it is the most interesting lesson. It’s what enables him to stand his ground against Darth Vader later in the film and what allows him to keep his composure even as Palpatine taunts him endlessly in the next.
It isn’t hard to tell when we’re afraid, but it’s almost impossible to admit it to ourselves. In doing so, we can move past the fear and open up new opportunities, whether that means asking out that girl you like, negotiating a raise, or giving a class presentation.
Keep it real. Yoda does.
You’re Worth It
Love the prequels (like me) or hate them (like almost everybody else), they had their moments, and the overall story arc of Anakin falling to the Dark Side is a tragedy that says a lot about human nature.
In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin desires the rank of Jedi Master. He knows his Force abilities far surpass most of his fellow Jedi, yet he is refused the title and driven to anger and humiliation. It’s one of the reasons he became so disillusioned with the ancient order and gives in to Palpatine’s tantalizing alternate route.
Anakin misses the point, though: a title is just that — a title. Jedi Master or not, he has a woman who loves him, a friend who considers him a brother, and a grand future ahead. Unlike Anakin, we need to realize that there’s more to life than honorifics and recognition. No matter who — or what — we are, we’re worth it.
Don’t Take Everything at Face Value
Aside from the overt marketing genius of porgs, The Last Jedi is the most subtle Star Wars movie to date. I had a long discussion with people about all the little details director Rian Johnson snuck in. The debate he created is a healthy one because it makes us question a franchise we hardly ever question, at least not seriously. Why? Because Star Wars presents itself as a very surface-level, action-oriented franchise, and those are easy to love. It has those elements, no doubt, but it’s so much more than that.
Just as Luke forces Rey to think past the Jedi, it wouldn’t hurt to think past what we normally know and accept in our daily lives. Asking hard questions means finding hard answers, but without them, we’re no better than Jabba rotting away in a stupor of temporary pleasures.
Anakin was a slave; Yoda fled after failing to stop the destruction of the Jedi; Leia’s entire planet was obliterated. Yet all of them found the strength to pick up the pieces and move forward, even if some took longer than others. “Let the past die,” as Kylo Ren said. “Kill it, if you have to.”
My life has been no less burdened by my past. I haven’t had a hand lopped off by a lightsaber, but I have my own collection of emotional scars to deal with. But scars are scars. The moments in which I received them were extraordinarily painful, but now they’re just reminders that I’m stronger than I was. That I can keep getting stronger. That I can let go of what once wouldn’t let me go. If we can’t do that, we’ll be tethered to our own Jakkus, our own Tatooines. And nobody wants that.
If there’s a line about destiny, it’s probably from Star Wars. But I’ve always questioned how big a role it actually plays, or the way it plays out (Read: third lesson.) The lightsaber that Supreme Leader Snoke gets through the gut is a testament to that.
I think destiny is bantha fodder. The Force never says, “I want this to happen!” As we’ve learned time and time again, what the Force wants is balance. It’s never achieved in a specific way; nothing is ever designated. Anakin, the supposed savior of the Jedi, ends up doing the exact opposite of what the prophecies said he would do until his final moments. Who wrote those prophecies in the first place? A physical embodiment of the Force? Did that person forge Anakin’s destiny, or did he forge his own? I’m inclined to believe the former. In Star Wars, and in life.
When the Sabacc Cards Are Down…
What makes Star Wars worth its salt is that it’s never afraid of what it is. It knows what it’s worth to the people who love it, and it knows that we know not to take everything it gives us at face value. Even though there are many of us who have a hard time letting go of the instances it struggled, we will follow Star Wars until the very end, no matter what path it takes.