Three Things Star Wars Teaches About Social Change

I had a friend that told me once a long time ago that the best science fiction and fantasy takes us out of our own world but still teaches us about our world. The last few days and weeks and months have been filled with plenty of strife, anguish, hurt, and sickness. If Star Wars truly is some of the best in the genre, it should have plenty to teach us these days.

Luckily, I fully believe this is true. I have been weighing how I wanted to approach this the last few days, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought about some of the common threads in Star Wars. Below are three of the lessons I have learned from these movies, and I hope they translate into a good set of reminders for the days we are facing now and the days we will face in the immediate future.

There Is Always Hope For A Better Future

I think Star Wars always starts with this acknowledgement that things as we know them aren’t perfect. They may even be downright oppressive. But we can and should be driven by a desire to make things better than they are.

Anakin hoped to make sure that the people he loved were safe. Han hoped for a better life for him and Qi’ra. Jyn hoped for a chance for a small band of Rebels. Han, Luke, and Leia hoped for a life without Imperial tyranny. Finn, Poe, and Rey hoped for a free galaxy for the foreseeable future. 

When we lose our hope, we lose our chance to make things better. We become complacent. Brighter days can lie ahead, but we need to hope for it and let that hope drive us. 

We Are Stronger Together Than We Are Apart

Sometimes the message we hear makes us feel like we’re alone. That we are divided and insignificant – and that our differences make us this way. This can become true if we let it.

One thing to remember is that we ARE different. We are not one group of people with one set of ideals. We come from different places, we have different strengths, we have different beliefs. But here’s the catch: when those different things come together for good, they have the power to be beautiful.

Rebels were from all different walks of life. They came from farms, from military backgrounds, from political positions, and even from the Empire. They had different abilities, different strengths. But those each had a purpose. So do we. All of us have a purpose here, and while some of us may be strong and outspoken leaders, some of us lead by how we act around others and how we show our love, and some still lead and support in other ways. So don’t be frustrated if someone isn’t leading how you would lead. They may be leading in ways you don’t see. Encourage them to do their best. We need all of us doing what we do best and doing that together.

The Change We Seek Starts With Us

Pushing for change in the Senate didn’t get the Republic anywhere in the prequels. Yes, they won small victories here and there. Yes, there were good people doing good work. Yes, I believe that is also true in our world.

True and meaningful change came when people started changing what they could change around them. By effecting positive and meaningful change in our immediate vicinity, we can create ripples of change that can spread farther than we might imagine.

We can go straight for that Death Star and try to blow it up. But chances are we’ll need to effect change on Lothal first. Then maybe the people of Ryloth will need to effect change of their own. Then eventually, we can learn what we need to learn on Scarif. And then we can make the change we need to remove that Death Star. But sometimes the best route to make that happen is to make the changes we can make around ourselves first. 

Empires don’t fall easily. Sometimes it takes three full movies to make it happen! But when we work together and allow ourselves to do what we each do best, when we strive and hope for a better future, and when we start to change what we can in our own communities, that’s when things start moving. 

Star Wars can teach us these things. It’s up to us to put them into action.

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