As we get through one of the worst periods of worldwide disease and panic in history, it is important to reflect on things using the wisdom we have all learned over our lifetimes. One of the cornerstones of our modern knowledge and philosophy is, of course, Star Wars. The lessons we can glean from our modern myths are vital to surviving this period and ensuring success far into the future.
LESSON 1: Trust Knowledge
Within the Star Wars universe, one of the key points of disaster was when the people embraced their politicians and rejected those with knowledge. The Jedi spent hundreds of years defending the universe. But Palpatine was able to manipulate the public into believing the Jedi had betrayed them and that their knowledge and skills were not to be trusted. Valuing the words and wisdom of our physician leaders and researchers is central to our survival. If we allow cries dismissing scientific thought and thorough analysis of data, then we are sure to fail as a Republic. We must trust in those Physicians and Scientists with true knowledge of Covid-19 and ways to counteract it at every step.
LESSON 2: Social Distancing
One recurrent theme throughout the Star Wars Saga is the need to know when it’s best to remove oneself from society. Amidala is attacked by Jango Fett, but discovers safety when she and Anakin isolate themselves near her home in Naboo. Luke escapes the attack at Hoth and takes time away from friends and family to isolate himself on Dagobah along with only Yoda and R2D2. This period of social distancing not only protects him at a vulnerable time but allows him to take this time in isolation to build up his knowledge and skills.
In both of these cases disaster strikes when they leave their isolation too soon. Anakin and Amidala leave their isolation to travel to Tatooine. Here Anakin takes a massive step towards the Dark Side when he travels looking for his mother and ends up slaughtering an entire tribe of Sand People including the women and children. Similarly Luke fails to heed the advice of Yoda and leaves his isolation to travel to Cloud City too soon. Here he faces off against Vader well before he is prepared and loses his arm and almost loses his life because of it. Luke clearly learns form this and similar to Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi before him, he again practices social distancing as evil dominates the galaxy. By maintaining this social distancing and using a virtual visit, Luke Skywalker is able to stop The First Order from defeating the Resistance at the Battle of Crait.
Lesson 3: Don’t Allow the Jar Jars to Destroy Democracy
One of the most important lessons of the Star Wars Saga, is that times of conflict are ripe for military and governmental forces to seize power. Jar Jar takes the place of Amidala on the Senate and hands Palpatine massive amounts of power in the the hopes of saving the Republic from the perceived Separatist and Jedi threats. This allows the formation of the Clone Army and the Centralization of Power to one individual. Democracy is always in greatest peril where the public bases decisions on fear rather than hope. Fear is the path to darkness in all things, and allowing fear to affect our democracy is a rapid path to losing it.
Lesson 4: Even After Disaster There Is Hope
Star Wars is a generational story. It reminds us that even as one generation falls, others will rise to replace them. We must always fight for every life to survive and use every weapon at our disposal to accomplish this. We should use our lightsabers: vaccines, medications, protective covering and common sense. But when we have loses, when we have death, others will be ready to take our place. Death should never lead to despair. Death should lead to a greater value for life, our values and the future. We should use this pandemic to spur us on to a better future. This key period in our history is one where we can fall into misery and hostility or push forward into a future full of love, unity, empathy and peace.