Life is a series of choices. Some bad. Some good. Some up for debate for generations. Nonetheless, the choices we make matter. The same is true for Star Wars.
Star Wars is a cornucopia of people making choices, and struggling with them. But the most important choice that they make is who they surround themselves with.
Speaker Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What this comes down to is, if you surround yourself with jerks, you’ll be a jerk. If you surround yourself with saints, you’ll be a… okay well let’s not go overboard.
We see this truth in our own lives. Think back to when you see a friend you haven’t seen for a long time, and how all of a sudden your vernacular, attitude, and actions all changed. You become like those you are around even in the simplest of moments, so it would hold that you would be like the people you are around on the grand scheme of things.
How does this all come back to Star Wars?
Luke starts out a whiny farmboy. He just wants to get off of Tatooine and start a new life, where he can make his own choices and form his own destiny. He doesn’t want to be “stuck” on Tatooine in the way he views his aunt and uncle to be.
During this time, he is around people who have the same attitude. We know Biggs Darklighter made it off of the planet, joining the Imperial Academy and eventually the Rebellion. We don’t know much about anyone else that Luke surrounds himself with, but from his friendship friendship with Biggs we can make a good deal of inferences
The people we do know he spends time with are his aunt and uncle. From the little we see of Beru, she seems to be a kindhearted woman who wants the best for Luke, and knows that that is not on Tatooine. This is reflected in Luke’s ability to believe in the Force when he meets Ben Kenobi later. He is able to believe in something bigger, much like his aunt believes in something bigger for him.
In contrast, there is Uncle Owen, who wants Luke to more or less settle for being a moisture farmer in the desert. He’s spent years beaten down by the suns of Tatooine, not believing in much outside his homestead and trying to protect Luke from the dangers of the galaxy. Initially, knowing what we know, one would think that this is a bad thing. However, the film shows us that it benefits Luke. He doesn’t take his duty lightly, just like his Uncle. When Ben offers him a free pass off the planet, he denies it because of his duty to his uncle. That same loyalty to a purpose is what leads him to the Rebellion. And blowing up the Death Star. And saving Anakin.
Once these major influencers on Luke are gone, new ones take their place, namely Ben, Yoda, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca. Five people (and aliens) that will come to be the average of who Luke is from hereon out.
Ben is not only first, his influence is the most obvious. He introduces Luke to the Force and begins his Jedi training, setting him on the path to becoming the man he will become. Moreover, he causes the way Luke looks at the galaxy to be challenged, and therefore is directly influential in what we see at the end of Return of the Jedi. When he is speaking with Luke after Yoda becoming one with the Force, he conveys his infamous “certain point of view” soliloquy. While Luke is initially frustrated, but then takes a lesson from it. While Obi-Wan and Yoda believe that killing Vader is the only option, Luke attributes that to a “certain point of view” and finds his own “certain point of view” in redeeming Anakin.
Of all the characters, it is arguable that Yoda is the most influential. In Empire’s End, we see this influence when Leia is thinking about the unborn Ben Solo, who has already shown potential for great light and great dark. Luke calms Leia by telling her that the brighter the light, the longer the shadow, a Yoda line if I’ve ever heard one. Also, we see Luke becoming calmer and calmer throughout the original trilogy, which directly reflects the more peaceful Yoda we see.
Speaking as a guy with a strong female for a sister, it is nair a surprise that Leia greatly impacts Luke’s life path. When he first walks into her cell block, Luke is just ready to start an adventure. As time goes on, Leia causes him to believe in the cause of the Rebellion and step up to become a leader. At the beginning of Return of the Jedi, we see Luke being the fearless leader on the mission to save Han, a role that Leia probably would have taken had Luke not changed greatly from their initial meeting.
When it comes to Han and Chewie, it may be hard to see what their impact is, as the impact seems to be more on them than on others. The dichotomy of Han and Chewie is that they are ying and yang, opposites that have a little bit of each other in them. Han is the brash, self-centered smuggler, with a good heart that cares for others somewhere deep within. Chewie, in juxtaposition, is a fiercely loyal companion (re: his life debt) who has an air of being the best at what he does. Luke pulls this and finds that there is balance in the ying and yang, finding balance in light and dark (re: the earlier quote about light and dark shared with Leia).
Luke is a prime example of how who we surround ourselves with creating who we are. But just like him not being the only “Chosen One” (I kid, I kid!) he’s not the only example we see.
Come back tomorrow for Part II: Anakin Skywalker.
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