This May the 4th finds me at home with a sick six-year-old. Incidentally, he is also one of the biggest Star Wars fans in the world, so we are celebrating with Star Wars vehicle cookies, Darth Mault shakes (vanilla ice cream blended with malted milk balls) and a marathon movie fest that commenced with A New Hope.
It's been a long since I've actually sat down to watch these films. My sons watch them so often that they're like an omnipresent background noise; always on and yet unnoticeable. But in sitting here, I'm really quite transfixed. Kitschy though it is at times, there is much wisdom in this epic.
Five Wise Things From From Star Wars
Firstly, the gender equality is terrific. Princess Leia is so strong and confident; her voice is her own, assertively and still femininely so. In the later films (earlier episodes), Padmé Amidala serves as both Queen and, later, Senator of Naboo. Zam Wesell is a bounty hunter.
There aren't a ton of female characters, but those there are aren't damsels in distress or wall-flowers. They are strong and fiery.
Secondly, the diversity and tolerance in Star Wars is fantastic. Just look around the cantina on Tatooine. Or at the Jedi council. Seriously, just do that. Droids, aliens, snout-nosed people, beings that look like they have asses on their chins, men and women of color, wookies...What matters is loyalty and courage and whether or not you want to fight for what's right. Just look at the way Chewy lovingly repairs C3P0 after he gets blasted in The Empire Strikes Back. C3P0, whose voice and affect remind me SO much of the Dowager Countess (Downton Abbey), can be god-awfully annoying, but Chewy just sits there and works him back to wired health.
Thirdly, and my son brought this point up, the basic messages such as "Trust your feelings" and "size matters not" are right and meaningful. Our feelings, our inner voices, the light within...any way you want to spin what it is to listen to our selves, it's a wise thing to do. And something that, for many of us, gets harder with age.
Work against that temptation we should; listen to ourselves we must.
Fourth, the emphasis on the value in taking the tougher path and spending time to learn something well is a critical reminder in this day and age of immediacy in both input and response. Mastery takes time as does getting to know people well. Both are worth it, but you must invest in the process.
Lastly, while I think it's so important to feel and honor our feelings of frustration and anger, just look what happened to Anakin Skywalker when he let his hatred and rage overtake him. He got all burned up on Mustafar and had to become Darth Vader to survive. He was powerful, yes, but he couldn't take his helmet off and he died a regretful man.
Star Wars is part of the classic film canon, and the more I re-watch them, the happier I am that my boys are obsessive devotees. If you haven't already, consider letting your kids watch the series, at least the original three. And if you've not watched these recently, give them another whirl.
May the Force be with you! Today and always!