The Force has always sounded a lot like love to me. An energy between all things, that surrounds us, and penetrates us, Obi-Wan told Luke it binds the galaxy together. And wielding it allows a user to do incredible things.
I tap into what feels a lot like the Force when I do something kind for someone, share a quiet moment with a loved one, or receive generosity from another. I feel bound and connected, not only to people, but to something greater than myself. Yes, there is the Dark Side, but even that seems to spring from a perversion of love.
Without specifically attributing every act of love or goodness to the Force, Star Wars presents inspirational relationship models. It offers a variety of examples to strive for, and teaches lessons about how to strengthen our own bonds.
Yesterday we celebrated Valentine’s Day, a holiday primarily dedicated to the celebration of romantic love. But for a Force Friday, I wanted to talk about my favorite relationships in Star Wars that highlights the energy between all things.
Han and Chewbacca
Chewie is not just a co-pilot, he is the definition of a wingman, or wing-Wookiee, I suppose. And we could all use a best friend like him. There are countless moments when he is faithfully there to support Han -- even when the scruffy-looking smuggler is tripping over his own bravado. Whether it’s ditching the Rebels, making a bad business decision to haul rathtars, or joining the coaxium heist on Kessel, he stays by Han’s side. Chewbacca might give Han grief, or remind him of the last time the human was acting like a dope, but one doesn’t get the feeling that the Wookiee holds it over his head too much. (And Chewie is certainly tall enough to hold anything over someone’s head.) In my life, I have been Han in this equation far too frequently. But the takeaway is to love your friends, even if they are not being the brightest. Offer advice, and deliver the occasional well-timed eye roll and snarky growl, but be there for them without judgement.
Obi-Wan and Anakin
There is an exception to the Chewbacca maxim of sticking by your friends, and it’s when someone in your life is heading down a dark path of no return. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan’s pain is deeply felt as he confronts his brother about the destructive choices Anakin has made. Essentially breaking the Jedi Code, he tells the younger Jedi he loves him, but he also must be stopped. While real life situations don’t typically involve lightsaber battles on the molten surface of Mustafar, Obi-Wan is holding an intervention. Anakin is killing himself with the poison of the Dark Side, and though it means sacrificing their relationship, Obi-Wan is compelled to step in. The lesson is sometimes you can love a person so much that the best thing to do is challenge their toxic inclinations, and risk losing them. And perhaps even walk away from them rather than stand by as they continue on the path to destruction.
Sabine and Clan Wren
Clearly there are quite a few family stories in Star Wars, and the theme of redemption is a recurring one. But the story of Sabine and Clan Wren is incredibly relatable because it boils down to homecoming, and finding common ground with your relatives. Sabine Wren returns to her home planet of Krownest (Star Wars Rebels, “Legacy of Mandalore”) for the first time since running away. She is branded a traitor, and receives a chilly welcome from her mother, Ursa, who also disapproves of her daughter’s Rebel ways. Clan Wren has aligned itself with the Empire, and Ursa imprisons Ezra and Kanan. The episode has the feel of a tumultuous Thanksgiving dinner where divisive politics come up, and the family dismisses another member’s lifestyle, career choice, or friends. Like Sabine, it is important to be true to yourself, but also speak a message of love – even if your family is uttering crazy talk. Sabine basically tells her mother, “I love you, I hear you, but this is who I am.” Sometimes the best thing we can do for family members we disagree with is listen, but re-affirm our deeply-held beliefs.
Yoda and Luke
While Obi-Wan was the wise and knowing mentor to Luke, Yoda’s relationship with young Skywalker resembles a grandparent/grandchild dynamic. Yoda has been bouncing around the galaxy for 900 years, and has seen some stuff. Meanwhile, Luke in The Empire Strikes Back is still fresh on his path. He is cocky, and a bit of a know it all. Yoda teaches him to have a sense of humor, and be playful. However, he also conveys that it’s important for Luke to exhibit patience, and just slow down a little. There are many relationship lessons to take away from Dagobah, but one of the big ones is to appreciate the knowledge and life experience of those who are older. And to remember that, while they may appear to be slower, they still have a lot of worth.
Rey and Finn, Rose and Finn
Finn is a growth character. He performs heroically in The Force Awakens, largely because of his feelings for Rey, but he becomes a hero in The Last Jedi because of the inspiration from Rose. There is a lot of Finn in all of us because he’s figuring out who he is, and what purpose drives him. He possesses much uncertainty, but has a good heart. With Rey, he experiences what it means to care about a person, but she is also someone he has romantic feelings for. That appears to evolve, and he is able to pursue a meaningful platonic friendship with her. Meanwhile, Rose teaches Finn the importance of caring for people he doesn’t know, and caring about a mission bigger than himself. There are multiple messages of love to learn from Finn’s journey. But the biggest is to have empathy for others, even for strangers, and to believe there is merit in working towards for a larger cause.
Luke and Darth Vader/Han and Ben Solo/Rey and Kylo Ren
A recurring theme is Star Wars is the unwavering hope that there is good in people, and that even villains can change. The dedication to this ideal might come at the cost of one’s own life. Luke is willing to sacrifice himself to the Emperor, not simply because of his commitment to the Light Side of the Force, but also because he believes his father is still inside of Vader. And Han’s confrontation with his son, imploring him to turn away from the Dark Side, results in his own death. Rey, who witnessed Han’s murder at the hands of Kylo Ren, still offers him a chance to reject evil. Simply, this conviction throughout every movie demonstrates an inherent love of good, and a belief that redemption is available to everyone. It betrays cynicism, and it is quite a difficult, but worthwhile, form of love for the human spirit.
Han’s Rescue from Jabba’s Palace
From a practical standpoint, rescuing Han from Jabba is a waste of time and resources during the war against the Empire. But the all-hands plot for the life of one man in Return of the Jedi conveys the importance of Rose Tico’s line, “We’re going to win this war, not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.” There is a deep emotional connection between Leia, Luke, Lando, Chewie, and even Threepio and Artoo for Han, and that makes it worth it to save him at all costs – even if it means losing their own lives. This is incredibly powerful stuff. What it teaches us in the real world is that we are only as strong as our weakest friend, and we must rally to be there for them in times of crisis. Whether it may be due to a break up, losing a job, or even moving, we all should pitch in with a rescue.
Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus
All due respect to Han and Leia, but the romantic love between Hera and Kanan is my favorite within Star Wars canon. Granted, they only finally kissed in the Rebels Season Four episode “Kindred” (the almost moment in “The Machine in the Ghost” doesn’t count). Theirs is the love of a couple with history between them. In many ways, they resemble parents on the Ghost, trying to raise kids, and keep the family together. But they are also two people who often must pursue their personal missions separate from one another, across long distances. They disagree, fight, bicker, and banter, but also possess a casual intimacy and exhibit a maturity in the relationship. And through it all, they are genuine friends with a mutual respect. I think the message to take away from Hera and Kanan is to communicate with the person you love, but also check your ego so it doesn’t get in the way of your happiness.
Leia and Han
If I didn’t include these two, the bounty on my head would be big enough to buy a new set of wrappings for Dengar. So what can be said about this couple that hasn't already been said? Over the course of the saga, we have seen Han Solo and Leia Organa’s relationship mature. The passion between these two has always been flirtatious, and a little dangerous. Yet, it is authentic, and sincere. They come from different worlds, but are equals (actually Leia is definitely out of Han's league). And if they didn’t love one another, they’d probably kill each other. One of the best couples in cinema history, we can all learn from Leia and Han to love a person who challenges you, and pushes you out of your comfort zone, but is ultimately there to tell you (and show you) they love you. Of course, keep stoking the fires as well because these two never lost their heat.
Poe and BB-8
I want to find someone who looks at me like Poe looks at BB-8, and vice versa. Seriously, the pure joy shared between pilot and astromech cannot be denied. So, what's the lesson? Simple. Give into irrepressible happiness with those you love. Also, be nice to droids, and animals.