By Jocelyn Buhlman
It’s the most famous quote—the one that sends your heart racing and signals the adventure that’s about to begin:
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”
As children, we learn how to live by travelling in the footsteps of our heroes. We can travel to new and better worlds—and learn how to make our own worlds better, by extension. Star Wars may take place long ago, but it also provides us an optimistic view for life now. We love Star Wars for a lot of reasons—there’s nothing like hearing the opening notes of the main theme; it jumps to lightspeed your memories of childhood awe at epic space battles, silly droids, and edge-of-your-seat lightsaber battles. But besides bringing adventure to your TV, your dreams, your Halloween costumes, and so much more, Star Wars provides life lessons that remind us to be the epic heroes of our lives. Here are our favorite lessons from the Star Wars saga that keep us inspired:
Family is Important
Skywalker. That’s the name the tore the galaxy apart, and the name that pulled it back together. No matter if they are good or bad, the members of the Skywalker family drive the epic story that shapes the Star Wars saga. But more than that, Star Wars reminds us that family has a big impact in influencing your life: It can shape your dreams, whether you’re like Luke, admiring his war-hero father; or like Leia, shadowing your adoptive father’s political career to one day continue his mission. Sometimes it’s what your family does that changes your life. Jyn Erso was a forlorn troublemaker before a message from her father gave her a mission. Luke would never have left the moisture farm on Tatooine if he hadn’t seen the hologram of his sister. Whether your dad is a Sith Lord or your adopted relative is leading an intergalactic rebellion, your family helps shape who you are.
A Good Crew Is Everything
Not everyone in the Star Wars universe has a family, and not everyone wants to be a part of their family. But that’s OK—sometimes they just make their own. The crew of the Ghost in the animated show Star Wars Rebels have all come from very different walks in life, but through their missions to fight the Empire, they have become a tight-knit crew and a found family. Han Solo may take pride in being a roguish loner, but in reality he can’t seem to stop helping his friends, whether it’s his longstanding partnership with Chewbacca or his reluctant return to help the Rebel Alliance. He has a group of people who he may not admit are family, but he’d still save the galaxy for them again and again.
You Can Always Change
Star Wars is a story of good and evil and of light and dark. But those who are evil are not permanently bound to their alignment. In fact, the saga makes a compelling argument that no matter how deeply the dark side has consumed you, you can still come back to the light. The most famous example is, of course, Anakin Skywalker. His fall from grace is remembered as his transformation to Darth Vader, but when faced with the order to kill his own son, he is finally able to break free from his corruption and destroy the Emperor.
There’s Power in Belief
The Force is invisible and yet it binds our universe together. Han used to think it was a bunch of ancient religious mumbo jumbo, but even he learned that sometimes believing in something you can’t see is what saves the day. It’s easy to become cynical and think that the galaxy is full of evil, but Luke’s optimistic reliance on the Force, in moments like destroying the first Death Star, helped save the day. That belief is passed on to Rey, who is doubtful of her Force potential at first, but who, as someone who admired Luke as a hero, eventually echoes Luke’s belief and relies on the Force to defeat Kylo Ren while fighting him on Starkiller base.
It’s Not About Where You’re From, It’s Who You Are
Frequently in Star Wars stories, characters are driven by their destinies—what the Force wills and what mission drives them. But one thing Star Wars emphasizes is that your destiny is not always what you think. A lot of characters thought they were destined to live life alone, surrounded by sand: Luke thought he’d be a moisture farmer forever on Tatooine, Anakin was a junkyard slave, and Rey was an abandoned scavenger on Jakku. No matter how remotely and hopelessly they are situated in the middle of the desert, none of them were destined to stay there—in fact all of them traveled across the galaxy, learning the ways of the Force.
Sometimes escaping where you’re from can be even trickier: Surely if you’re brainwashed as a Stormtrooper for the First Order, that’s your path for life, right? But Finn wasn’t going to let that hold him back! Even though the most evil people in the galaxy stole him as a baby, he still not only escaped a life of a Stormtrooper, but also became a part of the Resistance and fought against the very thing that tried to dictate his life! It didn’t matter where he came from, because he was brave enough to control his own fate and become a hero.
Don’t Be Afraid to Rebel
There are always going to be scary, evil forces in our world, and in worlds far, far away. There are also always going to be people fighting the evil, even if they’re as scary as a super-tall-cyborg, cool-cape-wearing Sith Lord. Princess Leia risked everything to protect the Rebel Alliance—she refused to give information to the Empire, even under threat of torture and the destruction of her home planet. Her bravery and her refusal to comply to the demands of the likes of Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin meant the preservation of the only organization fighting the Empire. Even after the Empire was overthrown, Leia still kept on resisting against any new evil that popped up… like the mysterious First Order.
Never Give Up Hope!
If there’s one thing we can learn from Star Wars, it’s that no matter how dire the situation is, no matter how overwhelmingly big and scary the forces of evil are, we should never give up hope. Whether you’re a farm boy in the middle of a desert dreaming of a big adventure, or a Stormtrooper who wants to be the hero of the Rebellion, there is always a way to save the day. Star Wars proves that even in the darkest hour, the light will still shine through.