Star Wars: Life Lessons from The Force
Science fiction is one of my favorite genres in cinema. I think more than any other genre it parallels society and provides an understanding of how things work. It mirrors the values we hold in our lives and in many cases, challenges these ethos that are in place. Take a look at some of the biggest sci-fi movies of all time. Minority Report deals with the idea of law enforcement arresting potential criminals before they commit the crime. Independence Day has us fighting for mankind versus extra terrestrial life who want to annihilate the planet. In the foreseeable future in Avatar, humans created an entire world because we used up all of our natural resources. Since Science fiction branches off into sub genres like fantasy, it isn’t a coincidence that these movies have become the highest grossing films in Hollywood.
I don’t think one franchise has captured the hearts of many fans for science fiction more than Star Wars has, including myself. It was my introduction to the genre when I was a wee lad growing up. The movies and its space travels was the reason becoming an astronaut was the first thing I wanted to be when I became an adult (we all wanted to have five different careers growing up). There might not be enough words to describe the impact Star Wars has had. The laser sound effects have become synonymous with pop culture. Lines from the movie have provided us with various comedy sketches over the years. It is impossible to not see at least one Darth Vader costume every Halloween. Name a rapper in hip hop and there’s a Star Wars reference in a song (LL Cool J - Rocking With The G.O.A.T. being one) I’ve seen these movies enough times to let you know there are lessons that within the movie that every great man should adopt and apply it to his life.
Have vision and follow through
To accomplish anything great, it is important to have vision and to be sure to act on your vision after. In Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker is a young farmer boy who dreams of getting off of Tatooine to find his purpose in life. It is here where he meets Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn who senses the boy has true potential. After some investigation, Qui-Gon begins to suspect Annakin is in fact “The Chosen One”: an ancient Jedi prophecy that told of the person who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon’s faith in Anakin meant the world to that kid and it ignited a fire in him and it became his calling to become a Jedi. Vision can take you far in life and although it is important to also have a plan in place, life doesn’t always work accordingly so it is best to keep working at it. A Japanese proverb states “vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
The apple doesn’t in fact fall far from the tree; and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing
When we hear this phrase, there’s normally a negative connotation to it. We do take on all our parents’ traits. Even though that means the bad characteristics, we also take on the great qualities that make us love them. Like his father, Luke Skywalker is a great pilot and possesses the power of the Force. He also has great passion and having strong emotions isn’t part of “the Jedi way”. It leads to attachment and emotions; and according to the code, it doesn’t correlate to peace. The same passion was what led to Anakin’s demise because it clouded his judgement. One could say it is this passion that led to both Skywalkers’ greatness. It is what allowed both of them to take the next step. In Luke’s case, he realized later that he is just like his father and accepted that. He knew of the shortcomings of his father and used that to further his growth.
There are no absolute truths
“Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” - Obi-Wan Kenobi (Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi)
Life is all about operating in the grey with very few black and white instances. The line of good and evil between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire becomes blurred the more you dive into the franchise and realize how it reflects the various governments and countries from our world. Rogue One is the first time in the franchise we witness there are Jihadist extremist-like groups within the rebellion and how they present a problem for the rebels. Rebel Alliance Captain Cassian Andor is asked to deal with Saw Gerrera in order for their cause to continue. Another example is found in Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith when Annakin is ordered by the Jedi Council to spy on the Chancellor, which is against their code of conduct. There are times when our beliefs will come into question and exceptions have to be made to the rules that govern our existence.
The art of finesse
No one in the galaxy could finesse a situation better than Han Solo. He was in debt to Jabba The Hutt and spent much of the original trilogy somehow not actually paying the guy back: despite the fact that he had the money to pay him back during Episode IV: A New Hope. Since having that money, he’s become a hero to the rebellion, played a part in Jabba’s death, and having Princess Leia fall in love with him (whom by the way was initially disgusted by his presence). The road to greatness has potholes along the way, and being able to think on your feet will treat you well in your endeavors.
The love of your life can change you: for better or for worse
The rise and fall of every great man there is always one common denominator: a woman is in the middle of it all. Anakin’s love for Padme drove him to become a greater Jedi than every other Jedi before him. It is also the reason it lead him to the dark side. In Episode III, she wanted to run away from everything and asked Anakin to come with her because she sensed the gravity of the situation between the Jedi Council and the Chancellor. With the help of Leia, Han Solo went from a fast talking smuggler wanted dead by every bounty hunter to a legend in the galaxy after the war with the Empire. They even birthed a Padawan named Kylo Ren, who trained under Luke Skywalker. A woman by your side can make a man feel as though he can split the Red Sea wide open. He also must be careful, because this same woman can cause the ocean to drown him.
George Lucas created an entire universe when he dropped the first movie in 1977. He was smart to tell the story of the galactic battle during the middle of it. Whereas most stories are told from the beginning, Episode IV put the audience smack dab in the middle of the fight. This is why the movie still has legs to continue almost 40 years since. Two generations have been influenced by his work and it appears as though this generation will continue with the lessons the Force has taught us.
It’s daunting I know, but here is a cheat sheet for those not interested in watching every single movie (or reading) but at least want a general understanding of the universe.
Episode IV: A New Hope ---> Rogue One ---> Episode V: Empire Strikes Back ---> Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi