A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
…there was an aspiring young man named Luke. Luke didn’t know it, but he lived a very sheltered existence. His family kept him close, his farm kept him fed, and a silent warrior in hiding kept him safe. Amidst this bounty of provision, unfortunately, Luke managed to indulge the most dangerous feeling in human existence, he became bored. Yet in his boredom, he discovered a valiant dream: He wanted to become a pilot and fly away to grand adventures and noble deeds. Little did Luke know that the fulfillment of his dream was about to come literally crashing into his world…
Luke Skywalker has gotten a bit of a bad rap over time. Since the release of The Force Awakens, young Luke has become the butt of several memes and an object of considerable derision. He whines about doing his chores, he’s usually the last to understand what’s going on, and even though his life’s dream is to leave home to do something great, when the opportunity is handed to him by a wise sage and friend, he makes excuses and wimps out. Doesn’t much seem like hero material, right?
Actually, I’d say it’s exactly the stuff a hero is made of. Young Luke is sheltered, yes, but he’s not weak. He has an idealistic vision of what it means to do great things, without the experience of ever enduring more than mild resistance. He knows there is a war and that the Empire is evil, but it’s not until his family and farm are cruelly destroyed that he truly understands what war and evil are. He decides to become a guardian of peace and justice in the galaxy before he ever encounters more than a tiny fraction of the citizens he’s swearing to protect. He’s naive, yes, but far from stupid.
It doesn’t help, either, that Luke’s as-yet-unknown sister is the epitome of a hero fully realized. Much is made of the fact that, while he’s whining about going to Tosche Station for power converters, she manages to endure watching the destruction of her home planet with only the slightest hiccup…but then Leia was raised in the heart of the conflict and has seen the war up close her whole life. She knows what’s at stake and how to fight and rebel with power and purpose; Luke only knows what he imagines from the scuttlebutt he can pick up in town. It’s a completely different set of equipping, and Luke has a great deal of catching up to do…but he does it.
The recent political events in my country and community have made me realize that we are all Luke Skywalker at some point. For myself, I have long resolved to take a stand for racial equality, but it wasn’t until I saw 13th last Monday that I began to see how deeply ingrained the problem is in the system I blithely navigate daily, how very much people of color have suffered and are suffering now beyond my borders of experience. And that’s just one aspect of the conflict. Human trafficking, labor abuses, political corruption, sexism…the Empire’s reach goes on and on and the more I learn, the more I realize I know nothing. I am Luke. I intend and envision far more than I understand or affect.
If you’ve ever had a plan or a dream that was bigger than you are, you’ve been Luke Skywalker.
If you’ve ever backed away from an opportunity out of fear or a sense of obligation, you’ve been Luke Skywalker.
If you’ve ever missed an opportunity because you were occupied with shopping or entertainment, you’ve been Luke Skywalker.
If you’ve ever believed you understood an issue without having an in-depth conversation with a friend who is directly affected by it, you’ve been Luke Skywalker.
And if you’ve ever suffered or been shocked by the truth of a conflict, yet still took up arms and stood in defense of others anyway, you’ve been Luke Skywalker.
The point is not to condemn ourselves for our likeness to Luke, nor to elevate others in an unrealistic comparison to our Leias. The point is to see ourselves humbly and authentically, then to get wiser and stronger as we take our place in the fight. It will NOT be what we’ve imagined or expected, and we will be challenged to quit at every turn.
But it will make a GREAT story.