‘There are more of us’: Messages of hope from Star Wars for troubling times

As we near the halfway point of 2020, we have a lot to ponder and reflect on. 2020 has already been a challenging year. The global coronavirus pandemic continues to drive uncertainty and fear, and people are crying out for justice in a world still plagued by institutionalized racism.

It’s easy to peer into the future and feel despair, and it’s tough to find the strength to keep going when it feels like the situation just isn’t getting better.

During dark times, I find myself turning to some of my favorite stories to find encouragement. Although it’s tempting to use fiction as pure escapism — to hide away from the world’s problems — that isn’t healthy. We can’t ignore the real issues taking place in the world that need to be addressed. Instead, now is the time to use stories to inspire us to keep fighting the good fight, and to help other people who are struggling.

Star Wars is my favorite fictional franchise, and while of course the people and places featured in that universe aren’t real, the lessons it can teach us most definitely are.

Here are some messages of hope we can take from the Star Wars universe, in the midst of difficult times:

‘The greatest teacher, failure is’

One of the most powerful moments in the entire Star Wars franchise is the scene Luke shares with Yoda’s Force ghost in “The Last Jedi.” Luke is feeling hopeless and discouraged, believing he’s failed both Ben Solo and Rey. Yet Yoda reminds him that failure is not the end. “The greatest teacher, failure is,” he tells Luke, reminding him that whenever we make a mistake, we can choose to learn from it and be better in the future.

The last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to listen and learn as much as I can about institutionalized racism and how to end it. I know that in the past, I have made mistakes, and I’ve been unaware of some of the ways I benefit from white privilege. There are things in my life I need to change, and ask forgiveness for. It’s time for me to learn from my past failures — and the failures of the country I live in — and to make a commitment to do better.

‘I know there is good in you’

“Return of the Jedi” is my favorite original trilogy movie, primarily because of the final act. Watching Darth Vader finally break free of Emperor Palpatine’s abusive control and sacrifice his own life to save his son never fails to move me, no matter how many times I’ve seen the movie.

Not many people believed Vader was worthy of redemption, but Luke didn’t give up, insisting that there was still good inside him. And in the end, Luke’s love and forgiveness for his father ended up saving the entire galaxy.

In dark times, it can be difficult to see the good in the world. But it’s still there. Change can happen — don’t give up!

‘We have everything we need’

Rey often struggles with self-doubt, which is something I’m sure most of us can relate to. At the end of “The Last Jedi,” she fears for the future of the Resistance.

However, even though their numbers are small and their resources are few, General Leia Organa assures Rey that “we have everything we need.”

You may not have a large social media platform or a huge bank account; however, you still have the power to make a difference in the world around you. It may sound trite to say that, but imagine if everyone felt they didn’t matter and decided not to do anything.

Change requires individuals doing what good they can with the resources they have, however small their influence might seem. As Vice Admiral Holdo also says in “The Last Jedi,” “We are the spark that will light the fire.” The emphasis on “we” is important; she doesn’t say “I” or name just one person. She knows it will take everyone, working together, to stop the First Order.

‘There are more of us’

Towards the end of “The Rise of Skywalker,” the Battle of Exegol doesn’t appear to be going well for the Resistance. They’re overwhelmed by Sith and First Order forces, and with tears in his eyes, Poe tells the other Resistance pilots that the end is near. He believes there are too many enemies to take down.

But the battle’s not over yet, and when things seem darkest, Lando shows up and fills the sky with Resistance allies, assuring Poe that “There are more of us.”

This scene always makes me tear up, because it reminds me that even though there are bad people out there who want to hurt others, there are still good people who are willing to stand up for what’s right. We can’t ever forget that there truly are “more of us,” and when we stand together, we really can create change.

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