While I can identify with the character of Han Solo more now as an adult, it was Luke Skywalker with whom I was enamoured with as a child. It was easy for me to identify with the farm boy from Tatooine. Luke and I grew up together during the original trilogy of Star Wars. When Return of the Jedi was released Luke was more complex as a character than he had been in the previous films. The most startling thing to me about his character was his costume. He dressed in black. His belt was also different. Gone were the different pouches to hold his items – By ROTJ his belt was stripped down – simplified – to carry only his lightsaber. He came across to me as more mature – grown up. He had accepted who he was and accepted the role he had to play in restoring balance to the galaxy. His black costume reflected his connection to his father – Darth Vader. In this film Luke would willingly seek out Vader in an attempt to offer him the chance of redemption.
Luke’s noble actions in ROTJ are admirable and continue to teach me the power of conviction. In our modern times, when friends have upset us or when we feel somehow unheard or betrayed by those in authority – we often to not make the difficult decision of acceptance. We “unfriend” our “friends” on facebook if they share opinions contrary to our own posts – or if they fail to always “like” our updates. We are quick to approve or disapprove of our friends’ new looks and we chip away at the power of speech with abbreviated text. Birthday wishes are often reduced to “Happy B-day” followed by an emoji or two. We want our posts to be “liked”. Some of us get wrapped up in our facebook and social media lives. Many of us have smartphones that alert us when any activity shows up in our “feed”. Despite our addiction to immediacy and being plugged 24-7, how many of us really reach out to our hundreds of “friends”? I fear that by the overuse of technology, the meaning of “friendship” is diminishing. How many of us alter our opinions when we are physically around people? How many of us prefer the comfort of expression ourselves through our computers and smartphones? How many people have chosen to terminate relationships through their computers or through text messaging? It’s much more difficult to truly “be” when you are face to face with someone. Don’t get me wrong – I think our ability to access information is incredible and can be very useful. It can also be very dangerous to us as social animals.
I think about what life must have been like without computers or our common technology. I don’t have to think back too far to remember how magical it was to camp outside and sit around a campfire burning marshmallows, feeling the flames lick my face while the back of my neck was exposed to the cool open air. No app can replicate truly the feeling of a fire snapping and hissing in the night under a canopy of starlight. No 99cent Itunes purchase can bring back the stimuli of that experience. Now we can visit with each other over the internet rather than in person. We don’t write letters anymore – we text and we abbreviate. We react in private to the messages or posts we read before we respond, depriving the sender the human experience of seeing how their words or actions affect us. We spend a lot of time in our heads, and little in our actions. We are in decay. Maybe I am not making sense, but it really is how I feel in our tech savvy age.
The Star Wars Universe takes place “a long time ago…” and that world is full of computers and artificial intelligence. Yet there is a desire for the characters to go places and to meet with each other. Luke decides he has to reach out to Vader if he is going to have any chance of succeeding in bringing his father to the light. He does it in person. He is completely vulnerable and risks his life in order to save another. He risks his life to “be” with Vader. His message is too important to merely send to him. Luke seeks his father out to discuss redemption from Sith to Jedi. But what would have happened if Luke turned to the dark side during his time spent with Vader and the Emperor? As a child I never really fully appreciated all that was at stake in Luke’s confrontation. I am beginning to see the power behind his actions and it is making me get out from behind my computer once again. It is difficult for me to be around others as I have previously posted. I have since made an effort to be more present and to go out more. I can do it so much easier when it is work related. It is so hard for me to do it when I don’t have a work excuse.
By the end of ROTJ Luke has reached out, stood up for his convictions, and saved the soul of his father (and in doing so helped the rebellion gain victory). I have a renewed admiration for Luke. As I continue my path to redemption and to justice for those abused in their childhood, I will look to the selfless nature of the mature Luke Skywalker – a Jedi having given himself to the force and who has conviction to his purpose. I teeter along the balance between light and dark, but am learning to be more gracious, to be a better person, a stronger disciple of the force. When my path on this earth is further along I am confident that I will find harmony and power in my convictions. I will see the beauty in the moment. I will continue to honour the children and stand up (I hope I will have the resolve to stand up when it is needed) for them. I have taken on the motto: MAXIMA DEBETEUR PUERO REVERENTIA – it speaks to me. I think we all need a motto in life and this is mine. WE OWE THE GREATEST RESPECT TO THE CHILD. If Luke can stand up to Vader, then I will continue to work towards standing up for the balance so desperately needed within the force. I will not let the “likes” and “unfriending” get in my way. Perhaps the more we can all make the effort to meet and have conversations in real-time, the more we will be able to resolve our differences and perhaps even we may rediscover the thrill in being truly social.