4/5/07

Life Lessons Learned from Star Wars

1. Love is dangerous. Back in the 70's and 80's when Star Wars first came out it was pretty clear the story was about Luke Skywalker and his battle with the Dark Side (both inward temptation and outward warfare). When Episode One came out, the entire story suddenly shifted focus from Luke to Anakin. Luke no longer mattered - now it was about how one man can fall so far from grace and yet, in the end - in the very last moments, still be saved. And what was his downfall? Love. His love for Padme lead him to seek the fabled life-reviving power of the Dark Side. His love for his mother lead him to slaughter so many Sand People - women and children, too. And I would bet anything that his twisted, misguided love for his son, Luke, is what kept him from killing him off right away, instead trying to convince him to join the Dark Side. Use of the force is a powerful weapon. To be able to wield it honorably, one needs to lay rest to his passions and view his missions objectively.

2. Annoying people never die. They just fade away. The bane of every Star Wars fan first poked his duck-faced head out of the waters of George Lucas' imagination in Episode One, and there was no end to the amount of people who wished him dead. In Episode Two, when Jar-Jar made another appearance, the audience half expected Anakin to accidentally swipe him with his lightsaber. In stead, the half-witted wonder rather appropriately became a senator and the primary person responsible to handing limitless power over to the evil Palpatine. After that happened, he just kind of never showed up again. You can say what you want about the annoying people in your life. The fact is, they'll probably only get worse before they get better.

3. Good lackies are hard to find. Nothing beats a good blaster at your side, except, maybe, the ability to use it. TK-421 is never at his post. What's up with seven or eight well-trained Storm Troopers running away from a lone Han Solo on the Death Star?? And don't tell me the designer of the AT-AT (the huge walking metal beasts on the ice planet, Hoth) didn't thunk his head on his desk and say "Why didn't I think of that?!" when he found out a single rebel snow speeder took one out with a grappling wire. Why does Darth Vader kill everyone who fails him? Because he's sick and tired of this foolishness! I don't think I blame him! It's hard to find someone who shares your vision and your passion. The Emperor got lucky. Darth Vader is, perhaps, the best lacky ever.

4. David can still win out over Goliath. It may take determination and a lot of friends to accomplish such a feat as the Ewoks did against the Empire on Endor, but the message is clear: the little guy always has an advantage. As long as you know how to lift a large log with a primitive pulley system and hold it back until your enemy happens by, then you're set! And never underestimate the power of a stone.

5. If you think you're a bad story teller, try looking a little harder. When we first met C-3P0, he modestly lamented that he wasn't a very good story-teller - not at making them interesting, anyway. Two movies later, on the forest moon of Endor he is mistaken by the Ewoks as a god and he absolutely enthralled them by his recounting of the story thus far. C-3P0's modesty in A New Hope is very fitting of his character, actually. The pensive protocol droid is wary about doing anything flashy just to show off. But in Return of the Jedi he has found just the right audience and was given just the right opportunity. Suddenly he was the only one who was able to communicate with these little teddy-bear-like creatures, so he was bound by his protocol programing to explain to them from where they had come. He is now the hero and he does his very best to explain the story. And he did it extremely well! Don't let what you think you can't do keep you from trying anyway. You may just find that you need a different audience.

6. If you have a bad feeling about something, step away. It's unavoidable. Whenever you hear those fateful words "I have a bad feeling about this," something very bad is bound to happen. It's almost as ominous as "That's no moon . . ." You're almost always about to be pulled in by a tractor beam or grabbed by a garbage monster otherwise blown up. If it's a Jedi trait to follow your feelings, they should probably listen a little harder to that still, small voice that says "something bad is about to happen."

7. When an important person says "IT'S A TRAP!!" people listen. Either important people or funny-looking people. When Admiral Akbar made his famous exclamation, it wasn't taken lightly. They didn't really have any reason to believe it was a trap aside from their sensors being jammed. Is this really such an uncommon practice? If I were rebuilding a huge, planet destroying space station I wouldn't want anyone knowing what was going on either. But the good fish-faced admiral "had a bad feeling about this." He listened to his gut and called back the forces. Now "It's a trap!" will invariably conjure up an image of a Mon Calamari alien in a white foam suit, and anyone who says this line will try their best to imitate Admiral Akbar.

8. Size matters not. Judge Yoda by his size, do you? And where you should not! For his ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is! Personally, I don't suffer from a lack of height. I'm not astonishingly tall, but 6'2'' isn't exactly a leprechaun. I have noticed, however, that even the tiniest of people can be a powerful force. And I don't mean just tiny as in height. The "little guy" is the one who doesn't really have a lot of influence or power, but he always has this over the "big guy:" he's got nothing to lose and everything to gain. He's willing to try methods that the big guy hasn't even thought of. And that just might give him the winning edge.


9. Crime doesn't pay. For all the power Jabba the Hutt had on Tatooine and across the galaxy, it was all for naught when he finally messed with the wrong Jedi. The crime lord met his end when Luke Skywalker saw fit to save his friend from his grimy clutches. When the entire team, Luke, Leah, Han and the droids, were all captured and sentenced to death by digestion, Luke did what any red blooded Jedi would - he saved his friends. Leah, however, who was forced to be a slave girl to Jabba got the particular pleasure of finishing him off. In the end, the message is clear: if you mess with the family, you're gonna get whacked.

10. Let the Wookie win. From reading the title of this post, one lesson was probably foremost in your mind. You probably had a vision of a hairy Wookie playing holo-chess with a small droid and his golden counterpart. No doubt the most memorable life lesson is Star Wars was taught by the hapless protocol droid on the Millennium Falcon:

C-3P0: He made a fair move. Screaming about it won't help you.
Han: Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookie.
C-3P0: But sir, no one worries about upsetting a droid.
Han: That's 'cause droids aren't known for pulling people's arms out of their sockets when they lose!
C-3P0:
I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, Artoo. Let the Wookiee win.

No, size matters not. However, in some cases, it's just wiser to let the Wookie win. He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day, as they say. If you find yourself up against an unbeatable opponent with no chance to win, just fall back a little. Let him win this round. He's probably earned it. There's no use getting him angry at you. I personally like my arms in their sockets where they belong.